Hillcrest Cemetery is older
than the City of Temple. The grounds have many marked burials that
pre-date 1881, when the city began. This 70-acre was once a farmer's
field, where citizens in the mid-1870s began a one-room school.
The cemetery evolved nearby when a student, age 17, died in 1877. An
estimated 16,000 are buried here. Epitaphs in many languages reflect
the increasingly diverse nationalities who settled here - Germans,
Czechs, Italians, Hispanics, French, Chinese, Vietnamese and
By 1884, the cemetery was incorporated, and its name was later
formally changed to Temple Cemetery Company. Most citizens preferred
to call it "The City Cemetery." As the town grew, so did the
cemetery. By March 1921, the cemetery was unofficially renamed
"Hillcrest," but the legal name still remains Temple Cemetery
Company. Although the City of Temple owns several acres within the
grounds, Hillcrest has remained for 130 years a not-for-profit
cemetery association overseen by volunteer trustees. In 2002, the
Board of Trustees undertook a significant capital improvement
project, the first real upgrade of the cemetery in many decades.
Today, visitors stroll among the graceful old trees, majestically
ornate stones and charming ambiance. Students use it as a learning
lab for class projects, and history buffs learn more about their
heritage. Hillcrest has enough acreage to serve citizens well
throughout the 21st century.