Sugar Land’s expanse of suburban sprawl contains a hidden and little-known gem: San Isidro Cemetery. It lies on the north bank of Oyster Creek in the Sugar Creek subdivision. When the cemetery was designated 101-years ago, the site was a grove of pecan trees, surrounded by pasture land and farm fields. Today it is a green and tranquil spot behind a brick wall.

 

San Isidro was a burial ground before 1918, but in that year the owners of Imperial Sugar and the Sugarland Industries expanded its boundaries and designated the land as a spot for Mexican immigrants, mostly farm laborers, to bury their loved ones. In most cases, those families lacked the economic means to send them back to Mexico for burial. Over the years, Hispanic residents working for various businesses in Sugar Land buried numerous generations in the cemetery. At present there are 690 burials in San Isidro.

 

The cemetery was named for San Isidro, patron saint of farmers and farm laborers, in the mid 1970s in honor of the early interments. A wooden bridge provided access to the cemetery through the mid-1990s, but lack of maintenance rendered it unusable. By that time, the Sugar Creek subdivision had grown around the cemetery and a dispute arose between the cemetery association and the home-owner’s association. Maintenance of the cemetery was difficult, and it became neglected. Both parties agreed to a mediated settlement in 1994. The cemetery is now a bucolic and tranquil spot for the repose of those persons buried there.

 

San Isidro Cemetery has a significant place in Sugar Land’s historical legacy. For many of Sugar Land’s Hispanic residents it is a significant local landmark, equal to the Imperial Char House, or the Sugar Land Auditorium.

Sugar Land Texas

1941 aerial showing San Isidro

Information taken from “San Isidro Cemetery: A Piece of History That Would Not Die,” by Mary Amaro de la Cruz, published in 2003 in The Touchstone and “Cemeteries of Ambivalent Desire,” by Marie Theresa Hernandez, Texas A&M Press.

-Chuck Kelly is the curator for the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation.

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