Much attention has been given recently to Corpus Christi’s historic old Bayview Cemetery....and, rightfully so.
It is the oldest federal military cemetery in Texas with the first burials taking place there in 1845 when eight soldiers in Gen. Zachery Taylor’s army were killed in an explosion.
It’s also the cemetery where Corpus Christi’s early pioneer families buried their dead.
In 2020, Old Bayview was added to The National Register of Historic Places.
The city has recently done a much better job at fencing and maintaining the historic cemetery, and the Nueces County Historical Society’s annual “Voices of South Texas” has done much to heighten public awareness of this historic place.
With all that being said, there is another historic cemetery not far from Old Bayview that has been largely forgotten. That cemetery is called “New Bayview Cemetery”.
It sits in a very isolated spot in the Hillcrest neighborhood, bounded by Kennedy Avenue and John Street.
The cemetery came into existence in 1897 when H.E. and Hattie Luter donated 14 acres of land to the Bayview Cemetery Association.
Old Bayview was filling up fast, and the Association was looking to create a new “showcase” cemetery for Corpus Christi’s families.
In an effort to raise funds for the new cemetery, the Association sold one acre of the land to the “Knights of Pythias” for their own lodge cemetery, and two acres of the land to Nueces County for a “County Cemetery”.
The remaining 11 acres were to be beautifully landscaped and divided up into “family plots” with concrete borders.
Burials began there in 1899.
Unfortunately, the new cemetery was a flop.
Recorded burials there ceased in 1913, and the cemetery was basically abandoned by the Bayview Cemetery Association.
During the 14 years of its active existence under the Association, a total of 760 burials took place in the cemetery. But, a number of bodies originally buried in New Bayview were exhumed and transferred to Rose Hill Cemetery between 1914 and 1929.
Over the years, many of the tombstones were destroyed by vandals or went missing. With headstones gone, the names of those buried there were forgotten as family members and friends passed on.
Miraculously, a record of many of the New Bayview burials was recently found in an old “black notebook” in the possession of Maxwell P. Dunne Funeral Home.
Much of the Hillcrest neighborhood has been decimated by construction of the new high bridge.
Abandoned houses and empty lots are everywhere in what was once a vibrant city neighborhood.
I recently visited New Bayview....or what’s left of it.....to photograph the few headstones that remain standing.
Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a history teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him a unique expert in the subject.