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Deaf Smith
County, Texas

Texas Cemetery Laws

Cemeteries Texas Historical Commission are among the most valuable historic resources. They are reminders of various settlement patterns, such as villages, rural communities, towns and ghost towns. Cemeteries can reveal information about historical events, religion, lifestyles and genealogy. Names on gravestones serve as a guide to early residents and reflect the ethnic diversity and unique population of an area. Grave marker designs and cemetery decoration and landscaping are a variety of cultural influences that helped shape the history of Texas. Established largely for the benefit of the living, cemeteries perpetuate the memory of the deceased, who bequeathed to their communities the services that give a place character and definition. In communities that have a strong sense of history, people are more likely to protect and maintain cemeteries.
Texas Cemetery Law

Neither the Texas Historical Commission (THC), or any other state agency enforces the cemetery. This responsibility lies with county and municipal enforcement law. If the cemetery being vandalized or destroyed, contact your county sheriff or local police department. Enlist the support of other individuals or groups, including the court of county commissioners, the local media, the historic county commission, local societies for the preservation or relatives of people buried in the cemetery.Here are some of the state and local laws or court decisions relating to cemeteries. They provide an overview of the legal steps that have been successful in preserving some of the cemeteries in the state. This information does not take the place of an attorney. Check with the county attorney or city or legal advice for more information about laws related to cemeteries in Texas. Most Texas law on cemeteries are in Chapters 694-715 of the Health and Safety.Chapter 712 of the Code perpetual care of Health and covers the operation of cemeteries continuing care, the Texas Department of Banking regulates.711,021 Property Section of the Health and Safety Code allows nonprofit corporations to establish, manage, maintain, improve or operate a private cemetery. Property for purposes of the cemetery and used as a burial site can not be sold in such a way as to interfere with its use as a cemetery. V State Forest. Lawn Association of lot owners., 254 SW2d 87 (Texas 1953). However, this property can be transferred domain, provided that is still used as a cemetery and the licensee continues to maintain the cemetery for public benefit. Barker v. Hazel-Fain Oil Co., 219 S.W. 874 (Texas Civ App - .. Fort Worth 1920, ref'd written).

A person living who has relatives buried in a cemetery not, by that fact, owners of the land or parcels on which they are buried. That person may, however, visit, ornament and protect the graves from desecration, even if he or she must cross private property to do so. Gibson v. Berry Cemetery Association, 250 SW2d 600 (Tex Civ App - .. Dallas 1952, no writing) ..Dedication section 711035 (f) Health and Safety Code that property once devoted to the use of the cemetery, can not be used for any other purpose unless the dedication is removed by a district court or the cemetery is ordered or abated as a nuisance.Section 711010 (a) (b) amends section 711 to say that improvements to the property that alters an unknown or abandoned cemetery can not be done until the debris is removed by a written order issued by the Secretary of State the person designated under section 711 004 (f). The owner may petition the district court in an unknown or abandoned cemetery is located to remove the dedication for cemetery purposes and the court shall order the removal of human remains from the cemetery to a cemetery in permanent care.Section 711011 (a) (b) amends section 711 further state that a person who discovers an unknown or abandoned cemetery shall provide notice of the cemetery with the county clerk where is the documentation of the land on was found as a description and an approximate location of the cemetery and the evidence that the cemetery was discovered. There are no costs associated with this presentationTexas courts have said there is no special ceremony or registration is necessary to dedicate a cemetery, current use as a cemetery is enough dedication. Damon against the state, 52 S.W.2d 368 (Tex. 1932). Enclosure of land for use as a cemetery and evidence of burial are some of the criteria for commitment. Smallwood v. Defense Oil Co., 89 SW2d 1086 (Texas Civ App - .. Texarkana 1935, written dism'd).

Vandalism appears to be growing in cemeteries throughout the state. The three people who vandalized the cemetery Hays County were arrested and prosecuted. All individuals were charged? And received judicial punishment. The tombstones were restored, but some of them suffered permanent damage.Abandonment The fact that the remains of those buried in a cemetery have not been eliminated and that the stones mark the burial sites is sufficient to show that the cemetery has been abandoned. Michels v. Crouch, 122 SW2d 211 (Tex Civ App - .. Eastland 1938, no writing). In the cemetery of Salem v Markgraf. Association, 540 S.W2d 524 (Tex Civ App - .. San Antonio 1976, no writing)., The court decided that the land outside the cemetery fence was not abandoned due to several graves were still evident.Petition for Guardianship of a historic cemetery chapter 715 of the Health and Safety that a nonprofit corporation may be organized to restore, manage and maintain a historic cemetery, following a procedure established by law. This chapter provides an excellent way for private citizens to restore a historic cemetery and obtain legal custody of him to ensure their continued preservation. The procedure requires a court to approve the establishment of a guardianship over the cemetery, so it may require the services of an attorney. For additional information about the procedure, the THC can assist.Local laws of Sections 694,003 and 713,001 Cemetery of the Health and Safety Code provides that municipalities Type Ageneral law may regulate the burial of the dead and the purchase may, establish and regulate a cemetery. The municipal government may include, regulate and improve the city-owned cemeteries.Section 713002 of the Health and Safety generally provides that any city or town that owns or has control of any cemetery has the power to maintain the cemetery.

Section 713009 of the Health and Safety that a city with a cemetery within its boundaries or jurisdiction may take possession and control of the cemetery, on behalf of public health, safety, comfort and welfare. Perpetual care cemeteries and private cemeteries of the family are exempt from this section.Section 713021 of the Health and Safety for a court (county) commissioners by resolution may establish a trust fund to provide perpetual maintenance of a cemetery abandoned or unkept public or private in the county. Commissioners Court County Judge appointed as trustee of the funds.Section 713028 of the Health and Safety that a commissioners court may use public funds, county employees and county equipment to maintain the cemeteries certain historic preservation purposes (cemeteries with graves of more than 50 years of age) and the protection of public health, safety and welfare.Criminal conduct Section 28.03 (f) provides that PenalCode theTexas an offense of damage or destruction inflicted on a human burial site is a state jail felony.Desecration of Section 42.08 of the Texas Penal Code a person who intentionally or knowingly, or disturbs the unearths a human corpse has committed a Class A misdemeanor

Section 711.0311 of the Health and Safety that a person who destroys, damages or removes the remains of a deceased or destroys, vandalizes, or desecrates a plot or deposit of the remains has committed a third degree felony. It further provides that a person who commits any of the following acts committed a Class C misdemeanor: defaces, vandalizes, injures or removes a tombstone, monument or other structure to commemorate a deceased person or group of persons, whether inside or outside a cemetery, destroys, vandalizes, or desecrates a park or other area clearly designated to preserve and perpetuate the memory of a deceased person or group of persons cleared, vandalizes, or desecrates plants, trees, shrubs or flowers located in or around a cemetery, destroys, vandalizes, or desecrates a fence, rail, curb, or any other structure of the same nature for the protection or decoration of any plot, headstone, monument or other structure of similar character. The person convicted of committing a crime will be released to the organization of the cemetery by the amount of damage? By the person.

External link to Texas Historical Commission's page on Cemetery Laws

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