Historic Hollywood Cemetery

By: Ron Bass

Type: General Entry

Published: April 29, 2020

Historic Hollywood Cemetery in Houston was founded in 1895 when Confederate veterans and brothers Samuel B. Moore and William James Moore made a series of land purchases that totaled approximately fifty-five acres. Their enterprise first appeared under the name of Hollywood Cemetery Co. in the 1895–1896 Houston City Directory. The cemetery’s name came from the Hollywood family—the family was admired by the founders and was later buried there. The original entrance crossed a single-lane bridge over Little White Oak Bayou near the intersection of Cottage and Trimble streets, through the Strangers Rest section for burial of anonymous (and often indigent) deceased. Baby’s Rest sections accommodated victims of high infant mortality rates experienced before 1900. One original brick road remains, to avoid damaging the underlying roots of large old trees.

Businessman Frank P. Moore, who was not related to the Moore brothers, served as the first manager of Hollywood Cemetery from its founding until his death in 1919. He also held the distinction of being the only manager (or owner) of the cemetery actually to be buried there. Owen H. Gatton assumed management operations from 1919 to 1926.

Attorney Thomas C. Hall bought the property in 1926, and his family operated it until 1994. While owner of the cemetery, Hall ordered a marble statue that now stands directly behind the cemetery office. This statue of a child looking up at the Angel Gabriel stands atop a pedestal of limestone that was reportedly salvaged from Hall’s old dormitory room at the University of Texas at Austin’s Brackenridge Hall (which was later razed). Though the statue was probably intended for Hall’s grave, he was not buried in Hollywood Cemetery.

Initially Hollywood served as a nondenominational cemetery for Caucasian residents of the Houston Heights. After construction of I-45 North in the 1970s, the cemetery relocated the entrance to 3506 North Main. Since then, with the demographic changes in the neighborhood, most burials have been Hispanic. In 2009 the cemetery was bought through foreclosure after many years of gross mismanagement and negligence, and the Texas Department of Banking placed it under new ownership and management. Renamed Historic Hollywood Cemetery in January 2009, the cemetery instituted numerous reforms and was granted a Texas Historical Marker from the Texas Historical Commission that year. By the 2010s the graveyard had more than 30,000 interments.

Some notable burials include Houston librarian Julia Ideson; Japanese naval officer Shinpei Mykawa, who helped introduce rice agriculture in the Houston area; Lawrence Shipley, Sr., founder of Shipley Donuts; suffragist and pioneering attorney Hortense Ward, the first woman to register to vote in Harris County; Andrew George Simmons, inventor of the ice cream cone; and Confederate spy Mollie Bailey, the “Circus Queen of the Southwest.” Other notable burials include Sarah Jane Gillis (1826–1938), who, before her death at age 111, recounted her story of the Texas Revolution and how she (at nine years old) hid in the woods and watched Gen. Santa Anna’s troops burn her home along with the rest of Harrisburg as he marched to fight Sam Houston at the battle of San Jacinto. With no money available for a headstone, she is buried in an unmarked grave between the Avey and Archer plots. Blacksmith Fritz Hahn (1875–1935), cofounder of Gulf Coast industrial equipment supplier Hahn and Clay, is also buried in Historic Hollywood Cemetery. His chromed anvil serves as his headstone and is topped with miniature tongs and a hammer.

Historic Hollywood Cemetery (https://www.hhcemetery.com/history.asp), accessed April 22, 2020. Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. “Hollywood Cemetery,” Historic Houston (http://historichouston1836.com/hollywood-cemetery/), accessed April 23, 2020.

Time Periods:
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Texas in the 21st Century
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Ron Bass, “Historic Hollywood Cemetery,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/historic-hollywood-cemetery.

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April 29, 2020

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