This Cemetery is San Angelo's Sacred Ground
SAN ANGELO, TX — It was 125 years ago that historic Fairmount Cemetery became sacred ground for the residents of this West Texas community to bury their loved ones.
Fairmount, originally called New City Cemetery, was established on 22.5 acres in 1893, replacing the Old City Cemetery, which was full. Elise Bond, wife of city Alderman George Bond, was the first person buried here, in March 1893.
A cemetery association was formed in 1897. Mrs. C.A. Broome headed the women’s executive board for 38 years, and Leila Hill, an early member, chose the name Fairmount. On March 6, 1893, the city sold the Roman Catholic parish a portion of the west end of the property. This became known as Calvary Cemetery, and continues to be owned by the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo.
Although Fairmount Cemetery was deeded to the City in 1927 and carefully saved assets were placed in a trust fund, the women’s board of unpaid directors continues its oversight today.
Fast-forward 125 years to 2018 and Fairmount now occupies 57 acres of land near the center of the city and has about 33,000 burials, some transferred from Fort Concho, Ben Ficklin and from the old city cemetery on Magdalen, also known as the Cemetery Gridiron.
In 1903, the Cemetery Association deeded a section to the Pleasant View Cemetery Association, a group of black citizens. The Greek Orthodox community has owned its section since the 1930s.
The rest house gazebo was built in 1911. Monuments include Frank Teich’s marble statue of Tom McCloskey and a 9-foot Italian bronze of St. Francis of Assisi overlooking the Memorial Garden.
The history of this great community can be found on this sacred ground. Within this historic cemetery you will find names such as Harte, Nasworthy, Mertz, Harris, Bryant and Shannon etched on family markers.
The body of Lt. Jack Mathis, first recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor in Europe in World War II, was returned to Fairmount. San Angelo’s airport bears his name.
This historic cemetery has people from every walk of life, from doctors to former slaves, from salon keepers to preachers, from outfitters to wranglers. Every race, nationality and creed has come to this ground to bid farewell to their loved ones.
Some would think after 125 years of service to the community that Fairmount’s 57 acres should be full. This simply isn’t true. Fairmount has plenty of grave spaces available (at $2,500 each) and we recently acquired two more acres for future improvements of an office and gathering room.
Also, the newly built columbarium is a beautiful attraction on the south side of the cemetery. Families can purchase individual niches of 12 inches-by-12 inches ($2,400) or 8-by-8 ($1200), or double niches ($1,800), where urns with ashen remains can be placed.
Fairmount is owned and operated by the City of San Angelo, and it has a board that consists of 12 women who govern the cemetery. The current board members are President Angela Williams, Vice President Ann West, Secretary Eva Choate, and members Donna Crisp, Eva Horton, Jean Johnson, Jackie Martin, Cora McGowen, Susan Mertz, Kay Rork, Mary Jane Steadman, Beverly Stribling, Kam Stribling and Martha Visney.
The Board sets the rules and regulations of the cemetery. These strong women are passionate and love this historic cemetery.
Another group of dedicated people, the Friends of Fairmount led by President Mary Jane Steadman, focus on projects and cemetery beautification and enhancement. Anybody can become a member of the Friends of Fairmount. Every year, the Friends have a program called Stones and Bones to help educate young minds about the history of Fairmount while teaching cemetery etiquette.
We have a cemetery grounds crew that has more than 30 years of experience and is dedicated to their jobs. Jorge Monsivias is the cemetery foreman, ably assisted by Adam Sanchez, Pedro Moreno and Henry Davis.
Our crew takes pride in providing a beautiful and well cared for cemetery. The crew is responsible for upkeep of the cemetery, as well as opening and closing graves for services.
We know this sacred ground is the final resting place for our loved ones, and it is our goal to maintain and preserve our city’s history for future generations.
Editor's note: Every March, the city commemorates Fairmount Cemetery. We are honored to have Harper Funeral Home sponsor our articles commemorating this historic piece of our community.