In 1839, when Austin was being opened as a site favored for the Capital of the Republic of Texas, a regular burial place was established in what is now the southwest part of Oakwood Cemetery. A decedent was buried on this hill at a spot to the right of Oakwood’s present main entrance and northwest of the Hebrew ground within the enclosure. It was not until Sept. 1, 1856, however, that the land legally became city property. On that day the legislature of Texas transferred the burial tract from the public lands to the corporate City of Austin. Across the decades, the name has changed; in 1886 it was “City Cemetery”; 1903, “Austin City Cemetery”; 1912, “Oakwood”.
Here lie the mortal remains of many pioneers and builders of Austin, and their successors; among them national and state personalities; cabinet members, governors and other high state officials, Mayors, business and professional leaders, and solid citizens from all walks of life. The two Jewish sections of Oakwood have been given perpetual care by Temple Beth Israel since 1876. The Austin city government accepted responsibility for permanent care of Oakwood Cemetery in 1970.
Oakwood Cemetery also contains a large African American Section of mostly unmarked graves.