127 Years of Dallas History Uncovered as Oakland Cemetery’s Records, Once Buried, Come to Light

If you have ancestors in or near Dallas, Texas, you need to read this story. It seems that Christine Sharbrough, the archivist and historian who manages the downtown library’s Dallas History & Archives Division, recently made a major discovery.

Robert Wilonsky recently wrote in the Dallas News:

“A few days ago I got an email from Christine Sharbrough, the archivist and historian who manages the downtown library’s Dallas History & Archives Division. It read: ‘Just thought I’d drop you a note and let you know that the Oakland Cemetery records are at DPL (and on my floor).’ She didn’t say how small or how vast the collection, only that 127 years’ worth of Dallas history – scattered for decades across warehouses and garages and the cemetery’s storage shed – was in her possession.

Christine Sharbrough, manager of the downtown library’s Dallas History & Archives Division, is now tasked with cleaning and organizing the Oakland Cemetery archives. Here she holds one the burial ledger.(Tom Fox / Staff Photographer)

“This is how I came to spend a few hours Wednesday thumbing through file drawers stuffed with pink interment cards bearing the names of men and women and children — and pets — buried in the South Dallas cemetery that opened its gates in 1892.

“Some have just the names of the deceased, a date of birth, when they died and where they are buried on the cemetery grounds. Small death notices are affixed to some cards; some even have photos. And upon some are scribbled details horrific (‘killed with machete to head’) and heartbreaking (found in Grovehill Cemetery, cause of death unknown).”

You can read a lot more about this previously-unknown source of records at: http://bit.ly/2ONGwhD.

On a personal note, I can believe that someone with Christine Sharbrough’s expertise would be the one to uncover these records. I have known Christine for several years (I even attended her wedding) and I know about her expertise as a genealogist, a librarian, and an archivist.

Well done Christine!


Get it imaged! And placed on one of the sites like Family Search or Ancestry.


The Dallas Genealogical Society has a searchable database of these records. The database draws on multiple sources, as follows: “Information for the Oakland Cemetery transcription comes from the actual tombstones, interment cards, lot owner cards, alpha singles and singles ledger.” You can find a detailed description of the process here: https://dallasgenealogy.com/dgs/local-records/cemeteries/oakland-cemetery/ as well as a link to the searchable database. So if your ancestor is buried here (as is mine) you may already be able to find the information you seek. Huge thanks to the Dallas Genealogical Society!


Being found a burial register for Maury Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, that not only predates the public index by roughly 30 years, but also contains information not included in the public index, primarily graves that were not marked at the time the index was created, and also having been told by court clerks that certain records do not exist on multiple times only to come across them on my own, I wonder how often such records as these for Oakland Cemetery in Dallas are presumed to have never existed or no longer exist because they are too rarely used for their existence (and location–the records in question for Maury are NO LONGER AT MAURY) to be widely known?


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