Sam Houston was
laid to rest in Oakwood Cemetery, in Huntsville.
The cemetery is also home to the once bronze statue, known to Sam
Houston State University college students as “Black Jesus.”
The bronze statue of Jesus is located in the middle, on the far north
edge of the cemetery. The statue is recessed into the woods a bit.
All the graves in the cemetery are laid out with the feet facing East.
The family’s graves near the statue are the only ones buried with
the feet facing west. The family erected the statue when their five
year old son died.
The bronze statue of Jesus soon weathered and turned black. The Jesus
statue is in the classic pose with the hands out stretched and palms
Those who visit the cemetery claim that when the sun sets in Huntsville,
and no light shines through the trees onto the historic graves, the
hands can be found palms down.
Oakwood Cemetery usually arranges Halloween tours for visitors and
also home to the notorious Texas Department of Criminal Justice
State Penitentiary, the Walls Unit, the oldest prison in the state,
built in 1848. Criminals meet an untimely death at Texas’ execution
Ghosts and unexplained noises are often spotted or heard at the original
death row site, located, on the first floor of the East Building.
This part of the Walls Unit has not been in use since the 1950s. The
South Building, as well as the catwalk connecting the two are also
said to be haunted by former inmates, who seek revenge.
From 1848 until 1923, prisoners were put to death by way of hanging
at the Huntsville
prison. In 1923, Texas authorized the use of the electric chair.
Many prisoners, including one of the most notorious offenders to be
executed in Huntsville,
Raymond Hamilton, member of the "Bonnie
and Clyde" gang, were executed at the Walls Unit.
One Halloween a correctional supervisor placed a voice-activated tape
recorder on the old and abandoned death row. Locals say that when
he played it back later for several other correctional officers, the
clanging of cell doors slamming shut and opening could be heard. According
to the story, at the very end of the recording an unidentified voice
could be heard saying, "Hey captain, hey captain."
© Dana Goolsby
Reporter of The Grapeland Messenger
shoe horses, don't they?"
October 29, 2010 Column