Sunday, January 20, 2008
Dedicated to my sister Rosy who has always had a fascination with old cemeteries, especially this one.
Ever since I was a little girl I have been intrigued by a cemetery not too far from the house where I grew up. It's on the corner of McDaniel and Schuller Street. It's North East of and right outside of the 610 Loop, off of Jensen Dr. This was once a predominantly African American neighborhood in the late 60s and through the 80s, although now it's probably equally or more Hispanic.
It was my sister Rosy, a teenager then, who first noticed the cemetery and asked my parents to stop so we could look at the gravestones. We were amazed that this ancient cemetery sat right in the middle of a run down old neighborhood and it was clearly unattended. Weeds were overgrown and there were parts of the wall that had fallen. Some of the stones date back to the mid 1800s and a few as late as 1960.
We were also intrigued by the gravestones outside of the wall. After reading Victoria Holt novels we remembered that in Victorian times they used to bury family members who had disgraced the family in some way outside of the family cemetery walls.
We guessed that since the cemetery bore the name "Westcott" and since almost everyone in the cemetery had that name, that it must have belonged to a family. But we were puzzled as to why they would let the graveyard become so neglected. Why didn't anyone take care of it?
As the years passed we think that the city took over cleaning it because all of a sudden the grass was always cut and it has remained cut for the most part. It's that way now but very neglected otherwise.
Today I went by to visit and to take some pictures. The sad thing is no one has really taken care of the gravestones and many of them are cracked or fallen over. It looks like several are even missing, probably stolen.
I often think of that cemetery and I wonder who it belonged to. With the arrival of the Internet I've searched for the Westcott family of Houston several times and I never find anything. There is a main street by that name that runs near Memorial Park, so I wonder if this street was named after someone in the same family. Nothing ever comes up. Very mysterious!
Update 5/9/20- I'm happy to update that through this blog entry the descendants of the Westcott Cemetery learned about its existence and now, twelve years later, I sit on the board of the Westcott Cemetery Association. Please visit the website to learn more about this association and to donate to restore this cemetery. "Westcott Cemetery, as it has been referred to for over 50 years, will now be known as McDaniel Street Cemetery since several family cemeteries are located in the same site." You can also visit the Facebook page.