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Peaceful, green cemetery rich in history

Resting spot named for trail-blazing sheriff's deputy Plummer

Michael Barnes

Is a cemetery a park? Certainly graveyards look parklike. Besides serving as the final resting places for the dead, they offer shady trees, crisp lawns, sober monuments and friendly structures for the living.

Plummers Cemetery on Springdale Road is one such green space owned by the City of Austin and kept up by the Parks and Recreation Department. It was acquired in 1957, when the city also obtained nearby Givens Park on East 12th Street.

The African American cemetery was once known as Mount Calvary, not to be confused with the cemetery by the same name at Interstate 35 and East Dean Keeton Street.

Tom Sylvester Plummer purchased it in 1923 from Thomas Plummer (his father?) for $300. He sold it 34 years later to the city for a nominal $10.

Born in 1902, Tom Sylvester Plummer was the first black Travis County deputy sheriff. He was widely recognized for the twin .44s he always carried. Plummer said he did so because no one was accustomed to being arrested by a black law officer.

Plummer owned several East Austin businesses and was deeply involved in community service. He died in 1986 and was interred in the cemetery that bears his family name.

Efforts to improve the site and prevent its misuse are now led by Save Austin Cemeteries and the Austin Parks Foundation.

Untold Austin Stories

Our city brims with untold — or rarely told — stories. Some of those took place in Central Texas parks. This weekly series examines the history found in the outdoor places where we play.

Plummers Cemetery