Cemetery Information

Family Cemeteries

Once dedicated as a cemetery, the land becomes frozen in time, unable to be developed. The property owners cannot desecrate or change the land in a way that disturbs interred remains. Instead, the property owners are sort of like trustees holding the property for the benefit of those people buried or entitled to be buried in the property. Therefore, the property owners must allow family members to access the site.

There are differences between public and private cemeteries.

Public cemeteries allow anyone to be buried there and typically have a dedicated public access by easement. Maybe the public has its own entrance to the site, or the cemetery is accessible from a public road.

Private cemeteries could be small family plots in the interior of large tracts of land. In this case, state law requires the landowner to allow access to the cemetery during reasonable hours. There are provisions outlined in Section 711 of the Texas Health and Safety Code related to allowing access.

Property owners could clean up the site by cutting the grass, but they are not required to do so. Whatever the property owners do, they cannot dismantle or destroy the graves. There are several offenses described in Sections 28 and 42 of the Texas Penal Code related to disturbing and damaging human burial sites that are punishable by fines and jail time.

The only way to remove a cemetery or apply any other use to the property, according to Section 711 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, is to have the cemetery dedication removed by a district court or if the cemetery is enjoined or abated as a nuisance.


If you come across an abandoned or neglected cemetery, please contact the county clerk's office to report the location of the cemetery.  There is a form called "Notice of Existence" for a newly discovered cemetery. The link to the form is below. This form can be filed in the county clerk's office free of charge. This form is recorded and sent to the Texas Historical Commission.

 Links and Forms