The Texas Administration Code (Title 13, Part 2, Chapter 22, Rule §22.6) establishes the Historic Texas Cemetery (HTC) designation as a means of preservation by recording boundaries in the county deed record.
The Health and Safety Code (Section 711.011(a)–(b)) states that a person who discovers an unknown or abandoned cemetery shall file notice of the cemetery with the county clerk of the county in which it is located and concurrently notify the landowner on record, documenting the land on which it is found by way of description as well as an approximate location of the cemetery and the evidence of the cemetery that was discovered.
Section 711.0111 provides the means to record an unverified cemetery. Please see section below for more information about filing record on an unverified cemetery.
There are no fees associated with these filings.
Notice of Abandoned or Unknown Cemetery
Recording a notice of an abandoned or Unknown Cemetery form is the fastest and easiest way to add an abandoned or unknown grave site or cemetery to your county deed records. The law clearly defines a cemetery as "a place that is used or intended to be used for interment, and includes a graveyard, burial park, mausoleum, or any other area containing one or more graves." On September 1, 2009, Section 711.011 of the Texas Health and Safety Code was amended to include a requirement for the recording of unknown or abandoned cemeteries with the county clerk in the county where the cemetery is located. On September 1, 2017, Section 711.011 was amended to include notification to the property owner on record. The Health and Safety Code further states:
(a) A person who discovers an unknown or abandoned cemetery shall file notice of the cemetery with the county clerk of the county in which the cemetery is located and concurrently mail notice to the landowner on record in the county appraisal district not later than the 10th day after the date of discovery. The notice must contain a legal description of the land on which the unknown or abandoned cemetery was found and describe the approximate location of the cemetery and the evidence of the cemetery that was discovered.
(b) A county clerk may not charge a fee for filing notice under this section.
(c) The county clerk shall send a copy of the notice to the Texas Historical Commission and file the notice in the deed records of the county, with an index entry referencing the land on which the cemetery was discovered.
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) has no formal role in the enforcement or filing of the notice requirements mandated under Chapter 711 of the Health and Safety Code. However, to facilitate the recording of unknown or abandoned cemeteries in accordance with Section 711.011, we have provided a sample notice for archeological discoveries below. Once the notice is completed and notarized, it may be recorded in the county clerk’s office in accordance with Section 711.011.
Instructions and Sample Notice of Unknown or Abandoned Existence of Cemetery Form (PDF)
Notice of Existence of Unknown or Abandoned Cemetery Form (Word)
**Please print out the instructions and follow carefully. Please take instructions with you when you file the notice with the county clerk.**
Notice of Unverified Cemetery
On September 1, 2017, Section 711.0111 of the Texas Health and Safety Code was amended to include a process for the Texas Historical Commission (THC) to review evidence of unverified cemeteries. An unverified cemetery is defined as “a location having some evidence of interment but in which the presence of one or more unmarked graves has not been verified by the Texas Historical Commission or a person described by Section 711.0105 (a) a cemetery keeper, a licensed funeral director, a medical examiner, a coroner, or a professional archeologist.
Sec. 711.0111. NOTICE OF UNVERIFIED CEMETERY. (a) A person who discovers an unverified cemetery shall file notice and evidence of the discovery with the Texas Historical Commission on a form provided by the Texas Historical Commission, and shall concurrently provide a copy of the notice to the landowner on record in the county appraisal district on whose land the unverified cemetery is located.
(b) The landowner described by Subsection (a) may send a response or comments to the Texas Historical Commission concerning the notice not later than the 30th day after the date the notice is filed.
(c) The Texas Historical Commission shall evaluate the notice of the unverified cemetery, the evidence submitted with the notice, and the response of the landowner, if any, and shall determine whether there is sufficient evidence of the existence of a cemetery.
(d) If the Texas Historical Commission determines that there is sufficient evidence that a cemetery exists, the Texas Historical Commission shall file notice of the existence of the cemetery under the provisions of Section 711.0111.
Instructions and Form for Filing a Notice of Unverified Cemetery (Word)
For more information, contact one of the THC's regional archeologists or the cemetery coordinator, Jenny McWilliams.