The Walker County Historical Commission will have a dedication of the Historic Texas Cemetery Designation Marker of the Joe Byrd Cemetery at ten this morning at 366 Bowers Boulevard.
The cemetery was known by inmates as “Peckerwood Hill”– “peckerwood” referring to inmates who were poor.
According to the Texas Prison Museum website, “As the prison system has grown in size over the recent past, so has the number of burials at the cemetery. In 1975 there were 43 burials. There were 99 burials in 1999. As of January 1, 2001 there are 1,970 known graves in the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery. One hundred and seven inmates were buried in 2000. Inmates who die in the Texas prison system are buried there for one reason–no one claims the body. In some cases there is no one who wants to claim the body, however, many of the families now choose to allow the state to absorb the burial costs. Recent years have seen approximately 25% of the deceased inmates buried at the cemetery. Today inmates are buried in a simple casket which is placed inside a two piece hard plastic shell. Current funeral costs run about $2,000 each.”
Burials usually occur at 8:30 AM Monday through Thursday.