Washington/German Cemetery

By George E. Wolf Jr. 1985-2008


By George E. Wolf Jr/1987-2007

Located at 2911 Washington Ave. on the west side of Glenwood Cemetery. Both cemeteries are now joined.

State Marker-Washington Cemetery - In 1887 a group of local German businessmen formed an association called the Deutsche Gesellschaft, for the purpose of establishing a cemetery for the German citizens of the Houston area. They purchased this tract, then located outside the city limits, from the heirs of John Lawrence and Thomas Hart. Until 1918 the burial site was known as the German Society Cemetery. The name was changed to Washington Cemetery because of anti-German sentiment during World War I. The earliest burials after the founding of the cemetery occurred on March 20, 1887, when J. Turner and Annie Fraser were interred here. One section with forty-two gravesites was set aside for the burial of Confederate veterans of the Civil War by members of the Dick Dowling Camp. No. 197, UCV. Emma (Edmondson) Seelye (1841-1898), also a veteran of the Civil War, is buried here. Masquerading as a man and using the name Frank Thompson, she enlisted in the Federal army in 1861. For two years she served as a soldier, scout, brigade postmaster, and orderly on the staff of General O. M. Poe. She left the unit in 1863 after contracting malaria, but later served in the war as a nurse. She died near La Porte, Texas.

When you are driving into the cemetery, there used to be a caretakers home located within the cemetery. The woman was said to murdered in this home in 1977. The home was removed in the 1990's. Next to the house is a fountain, the fountain is all that is left. The creek next to the house is where small trash dumps were located, ca. 1880-1925's. Along the creek was a outbuilding built in 1925, it too was torn down and removed. The creek is now filled in with dirt and destroyed/GEW2007

Pictures- http://www.freewebs.com/washingtoncem/apps/photos/

On the Parker graves were two angels. They were complete in 1987 but by 2007 the heads were missing. Its a shame that such a well taken care of cemetery can not keep there markers from being destroyed.

The graves have been restored as of 2010..........

Parker Graves 1985

Parker Graves 2007

Parker Graves 2010

The Nolands and Washington Cemetery

Jennie Carolyn SHARMAN

Was a widow at time of her death. She lived on the property of Washington Cem., Houston, Harris Co., TX until her death. The Washington Cemetery was a corporation according to the Noland family and Jennie C. Noland had stock. Two of her children, probably stillborn or died after birth and not named, were buried at Hollywood Cem, Houston, Harris CO., TX. At some point, these babies were moved to Washington Cem.

More About Jennie Carolyn SHARMAN:

Burial: Houston, Harris Co., TX - Washington Cemetery

Notes for William "Willie" Lee NOLAND:

1900 Harris Co., TX

Will (Nolan) 22 (birth info Jan 1878) semetery sexton

Minnie 21

Frank 3

Ollie 10 mos. (dau ??)

Living next door was Will's brother Ollie H. and family. Will and Minnie have been married 4 yrs.

1910 not found in the census

1920 Harris Co., TX census

William NOLAND age 41 b. MO (born 1879) address 2911 Washington Ave.

Jennie (SHARMAN) age 33 b. TX

Raymond NOLAND age 8

Ella NOLAND age 64 b. MO (mother to William Noland) (Ellener "Ella" LEWIS)

1920 Houston, Harris Co., TX (East 25th Aurora Sunset Heights)

John 62 ??

Edith 62

Will 37

Jennie 33 *** (see above)

Joseph 30

Charles 27

George 24

Millfred 22

(not sure why they are listed as a family and then listed in separate households with their families)

1930 Houston, Harris Co., TX census Pct. 1 Port of Justice:

Willie L. Noland age 52 b. MO (father b. TX mother b. MO) Superintendent Cemetery married age 25

Jennie C. Noland age age 43 b. TX

Raymond Noland age 18 b. TX occupation Tinner in Tin Shop married age 18

Mamie (Lotz) Noland (wife of Raymond) age 18 b. TX married age 18

WWI draft registration has birth May 18, 1878

William "Willie" Lee Noland Obituary:

63 when died. Resided at 2911 Washington Ave., Houston, Harris Co., TX. Superintendent of the cemetery (wife: Jennie C. Sharman was part owner). He was a member of Houston Consistory Scottish Rite. Resident of Houston 59 years. Obituary mentions having 3 sons. He moved to Houston when he was 4 from Missouri (about 1882). Found in the Washington Cemetary book, donated to the Clayton Genealogical Library. (cause of death: Heart attack)

Obituary Reads as follows:

Willie Lee Noland To Be Buried Sunday

Funeral services for Willie Lee Noland, 63 of 2911 Washington, superintendent of Washington Cemetery, will be held at 2 PM Sunday in the drawing room of Wm. G. Vollus & Co., with Rev. D. Baltzer officiating. Burial will be in Washington Cemetery. Mr. Noland died at 1:30 pm Friday in a local hospital. He was a member of Houston Consistory Scottish Rite Bodies, Cade Rothwell Lodge No. 1151, A. F. and A. M., Knights Templar, Will N. Kidd Chapter No. 424, R. A. M., Andral Vann Chapter No. 741, O. E. S. Arabia Temple Shrine, Knights of Oythias, Eagles and W. O. W. He had been a resident of Houston 59 years. He is survived by (part of last part of the obituary is missing) but has three sons, F. P., O. H. and R. J. and mother, (name torn off), brothers (names torn off). There is a photo of him.

When there was a burial at Washington Cemetery and there was an obituary printed in the newspaper, the record keeper cut out the obituary of each person being buried and made was a part of records of the cemetery.

William was married to Jennie's cousin (name unknown) before he married Jennie according to the family. She is buried in Glenwood Cem.

The Noland's were part owners and on the board of trustees of the Washington Cemetery in downtown Houston, Harris Co., TX.:

This cemetery borders Glenwood Cemetery and consists of 21.3 acres. Its original 27 acres were purchased in 1887 by local German businessmen who formed an association called Deutsche Gesellschaft von Houston, the German Society of Houston, and established a cemetery for Houston's German citizens. Washington Cemetery was called the German Society Cemetery until approximately 1918 when its name was changed to protect it from World War I anti-German sentiment. There are close to 7000 graves here, including at least 105 Confederate and more than a dozen Union soldiers. If you're wandering around this graveyard and happen to notice the 1820 marker for Alexandros Seitandes, it means nothing more than that the stonecutter made a mistake. The headstone should read 1920. The same mistake was made on another stone dated 1847. It should read 1947. Former caretaker, Leona Tonn, lived on this property from the late 1930's until July 1977. Her death is one of Houston's unsolved murders.

Vandalism has cost The Concerned Citizens for Washington Cemetery Care, Inc. (also known as CCWCC) several thousand dollars yet some damage just can't be reversed. Restoration of this cemetery has been truly a labor of love and respect. In the mid-20th century, Washington Cemetery was financially abandoned yet the widow (Jennie C. Sharman Noland) of the caretaker attempted to keep it up. After she died, the graveyard was severely neglected. In 1977, a group of Houstonians, many whose ancestors are buried at the cemetery, collected $20,000 and began restoration and maintenance. They hauled away trash, cleared brush, repaved roads, ran waterlines to the property, stabilized headstones, added front gates and security lights, researched the lives of the people buried there and published a history of them, microfilmed burial records, and located and marked previously unmarked graves of about 600 people. So, they were prepared to take advantage of a new Texas state law that took effect in 1995 that allows abandoned cemeteries to be legally adopted by those who can demonstrate an interest in, connection to, and willingness and ability to restore and maintain them. By taking legal control of the grounds, they are able to sell any undeveloped plots and use the funds for maintenance and improvements. As of 1999, the CCWCC has spent more than $500,000 and enormous numbers of volunteer hours to restore this graveyard.

Note about above article: Sometime after the death of Leona Tonn, step-sons of William Willie" Lee Noland (grandson of Willie Lee and Jennie Noland) moved into the house on the cemetery property. They lived on the property until mid 1982. When there was a burial scheduled, the information was recorded in cemetery records and arrangements were scheduled for the graves to be dug.

While the stepsons were living on cemetery property, parts of a movie (Student Bodies) were filmed in the cemetery. This movie was released in 1981. It did not get good reviews.

The two, John Lang & Willie Noland had an agreement that which ever one died first, the other one would inherit their shares. Mr. Lang died 3 or 4 years before Willie so Willie received Mr. Lang’s shares. Willie’s shares passed on to Jennie Sharman Noland upon Willie’s passing. Jennie C. Sharman Noland's interest passed on to William "Willie" Lee "Bill" (grandson) upon her death. Raymond did not receive her shares as he had passed away before she did. William "Willie" "Bill" Lee Noland was in high school when his father died. He stated that his father served in WWII in the Pacific Front against the Japanese. Rumor has it that Raymond Noland committed suicide. Raymond Noland was divorced from Mamie. It is unknown if the agreement was verbal or written. Supposedly Raymond shot himself and his son, William "Willie" "Bill" Lee" Noland has possession of the gun.

Raymond Noland was married after his divorce from Mamie (Lotz). His obituary states he had a widow by the name of Evelyn.

Per grandson of William "Willie" Lee Noland, Mr. Noland worked for the German Society. Washington Cem. was an association between John Lang (owned largest of shares), William Noland owning 2nd largest of shares (37 %) and 4 or 5 other shareholders. William Noland was last survivor of shareholders and eventually owned largest of shares. When Mr. Noland died, his (2nd) wife Jennie (Sharman) Noland inherited the shares. When Jennie died, her grandson, William "Willie" Lee Noland (b. 1933) became owner. Mr. Noland also worked for Hollywood Cem., Houston, Harris Co., TX.

Research has been done on the cemetery and research is showing that Willie Lee Noland owned some of the shares in a "Not For Profit" corporation. The cemetery association was originally chartered prior to 1900 "For Profit". It became "Not For Profit" in 1918. No one has been able to acquire evidence that Mr. Noland or his wife actually owned the cemetery property or that they owned all the shares. It has been determined that John Lang, Jr. (died 1935) owned more shares than the other shareholders, but he did not own the majority of the shares. Three of the 37 original shares were subsequently acquired by CWCC Inc. It is said that several other shares are held by various other families and institutions. The cemetery corporation ceased to exist in 1947.