The City Cemetery

In 1892, the City Council discussed the need for cemetery expansion. The resolution adopted by City Council noted that "the old City Cemetery (on Moctuzuma St.) is very near filled and the necessity exists to designate new grounds for a burying place". The resolution noted that "the present cemetery is a disgrace to the City... and authorized the Mayor to advertise for bids for the purchase of four City Blocks adjoining each other to be set aside as City Cemetery....and that the cemetery should be enclosed with a substantial board fence and the streets dividing the blocks shall be declared closed.... The whole plot of ground shall then be laid out in squares with properly graveled walks under the direction of the City Engineer" (City Minute Book).


The City Cemetery was established by ordinance on December 6, 1892. Originally, the cemetery was bounded on the north by Saunders, south by Locust, east by Buena Vista, and west by Stone, a site north of the Heights neighborhood at what was then the outskirts of the city. The City ordinance which dedicated the City Cemetery land provided a police officer to "give the constant personal attention to the cemetery under the direction of the City Council" and the establishment of a "cemetery fund from burial proceeds to fund the purchase of the property and the salary of the Sexton and other expenses." Additionally a cemetery committee of three members was established to make further regulations for the management of the cemetery: M. Deutz, F.B. Earnest and C.F. Yaeger. In 1901, the City Cemetery board of trustees were J.M. Slaughter, George C. Woodman, and D.H. Randolph. From 1909-1913, Justo Penn, D.C. de La Chica, and I. Alexander served as cemetery trustees. From 1917-1940, Tomás Arispe served as sexton.


A smallpox epidemic spread out of northern Mexico in 1898, and by October the public officials were in a panic. Despite efforts to contain the disease through vaccination and the closing of public places such as churches and schools, smallpox ran unabated in Laredo. The little children of Laredo suffered the full effects of the disease. Funeral processions, with tiny wooden coffins, remained a daily ritual (Thompson, 1986). Those who lived through the terrible days of 1899 would never forget this cttywide tragedy.