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 Koreans.

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.