Seven years after being designated a Historic Texas Cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission, Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery received its official historical marker at a dedication ceremony April 18.
Located off East Hardy Road about a mile north of Old Town Spring, the 3.75-acre plot of land was first deeded to "the colored people of the Town of Spring" by J.C. Sellers for $1 on July 31, 1923, to be used as a cemetery or graveyard, according to information from the Old Town Spring Heights Community Association.
For more than five decades, the cemetery was known as the Colored People of Spring Cemetery until 1975 when a cemetery committee was formed to maintain and restore the site. The committee voted Oct. 23, 1975 to change the name of the cemetery to Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery.
Today, at nearly 100 years old, the cemetery is home to several unmarked graves and serves as the final resting place of former slaves and at least 29 veterans from wars including World War I and World War II. Names of prominent Spring-area families that can be found on cemetery headstones include Barnet, Lee, Williams, Franklin, King, Bradie, Mays, Sayles, Holland, Phillips and Booker.
Although the cemetery committee is no longer active, Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery is now maintained by the OTSHCA, which regularly hosts cemetery cleanup days and was instrumental in getting the cemetery's historical designation.
In 2012, OTSHCA requested a Historic Texas Cemetery designation from the Texas Historical Commission and in 2014, Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery was named a Historic Texas Cemetery. However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and delays due to the Texas Historical Commission having to find a new foundry to make the historical markers, Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery did not receive its official historical marker until 2021.
"This marker is significant to the families of Old Town Spring Heights because it shows the preservation of history of the burial grounds at Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery," OTSHCA President Gladys Phillips said in an email. "The goal of OTSHCA is to make this a beautiful resting place for the African American families of Old Town Spring Heights to come and visit their loved ones that are buried here at Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery."
The OTSHCA hosted a historical marker dedication ceremony April 18, which was attended by representatives from the Harris County Historical Commission, Harris County Precinct 4, OTSHCA and several local churches, including New Life Christian Reformed Church and Truevine Missionary Baptist Church, among others.
"This would not be possible if it were not for our elders who came before us, who paved the way for us," said Karyn Booker, who spoke during the dedication ceremony on behalf of Old Town Spring Heights families. "We must remember the people who came before us."
Since its inception in 2006, the OTSHCA has completed several improvement projects at Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery including having the cemetery surveyed, placing crosses on many of the unmarked graves, erecting a new cemetery sign, and removing underbrush, dead trees, ant mounds, vines and trash.
"I must say it looks much better, but there is still much more work to do," Phillips said.
Future improvement projects planned for Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery include installing new fencing around the entire cemetery, leveling the entire cemetery and getting it sonared, clearing all old headstones, raising and mending broken headstones, and restoring and raising the headstones of veterans and former slaves. To support these efforts as well as ongoing maintenance of Spring Peaceful Rest Cemetery, donations can be made by texting "OTSHCA" to 646-832-4848 or online by clicking here. Donations can also be mailed to OTSHCA at P.O. Box 1147, Spring, Texas, 77383.
Additionally, the OTSHCA will host a cemetery cleanup day May 22 from 9 a.m.-noon. Volunteers are asked to bring shovels, rakes, weed eaters, shears, clippers and chainsaws to assist with the cleanup process. The OTSHCA will provide gloves, goggles, snacks, drinks and lunch. For additional information about the cemetery cleanup day, contact Gladys Phillips at 281-793-8414 or T.D. Davis at 832-723-0488.