Hillcrest Cemetery is older than the City of Temple. The grounds have many marked burials that pre-date 1881, when the city began. These 68-acres were once a farmer's field, where citizens in the mid-1870s began a one-room school.
The cemetery evolved nearby when a student, age 17, died in 1877. An estimated 16,000 are buried here. Epitaphs in many languages reflect the increasingly diverse nationalities who settled here - Germans, Czechs, Italians, Hispanics, French, Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans.
By 1884, the cemetery was incorporated, and its name was later formally changed to Temple Cemetery Company. Most citizens preferred to call it "The City Cemetery." As the town grew, so did the cemetery. By March 1921, the cemetery was unofficially renamed "Hillcrest," but the legal name still remains Temple Cemetery Company.
On May 1, 2019, the Temple Cemetery Company transferred ownership, management, and operations to the City of Temple. The day to day business operations and grounds maintenance is managed by the Parks and Recreation Department.
A few of the key gravesites listed on the Hillcrest Cemetery historical walking tour are:
- Mary Williams - cemetery's earliest marked grave (1877)
- W. Goodrich Jones - considered the father of Texas Forestry
- Raleigh R. White, Jr., M.D./Arthur Carroll Scott Sr., M.D. - co-founders of Scott & White Memorial Hospital
- Frank Doering - established the Doering Hotel, renamed to the Hawn Hotel