Cemetery Preservation

 

Cemeteries on public land are designated as State Archaeological Landmarks under the Antiquities Code of Texas (Title 9, chapter 191 of the Texas Natural Resources Code of 1977). Headstones associated with interments may also be protected, either as part of archaeological deposits or as separate architectural features associated with the site as a whole. According to the Code, no such deposits may be "taken, altered, damaged, salvaged, or excavated without a contract or permit" from the Texas Antiquities Committee. (Texas Historic Commission Texas Preservation Guidelines).

Section 711.035(f) of the Health and Safety Code, states that once property is dedicated for cemetery use, it cannot be used for any other purpose unless the dedication is removed by a district court or the cemetery is enjoined or abated as a nuisance. In the case of abandonment, the feet that the remains of the dead buried in a cemetery have not been removed and that tombstones mark the places of burial is sufficient to show that the cemetery has not been abandoned. It is a Class C misdemeanor to deface, vandalize, or remove gravestones or other features. It is a felony of the third degree to destroy, damage or remove remains of a decendent, and a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly or intentionally disinter or disturb a human corpse.

Any county commissioners court may create a trust fund for the maintenance of neglected public and private cemeteries in the county, and the county may use public funds, county employees, and county equipment for the maintenance of cemeteries for purposes of historic preservation and protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.Any person who wishes to visit a cemetery that has no public ingressegress shall have the rights for visitation during reasonable hours and for the purpose of a cemetery visit.