Rosewood Cemetery is Galveston's first burial ground designated exclusively for African Americans. The cemetery was established in 1911 by a group of African American citizens who organized themselves as the Rosewood Cemetery Association. The Rosewood Cemetery Association purchased the land from the Joe Levy Family and 86 shares were divided among 26 shareholders; including churches, associations, societies and individuals, including the Wright Cuney Lodge.
On September 7, 1945, one of the shareholders sold 19 shares to Thomas Armstrong. In 1957, Armstrong purchased the remaining shares of the Rosewood Association. Upon Armstrong's death, his estate sold the property to the Saraccos.
Knowing when he purchased it that the property he planned to develop contained a burial ground, Saracco had the land fully surveyed for graves before development began. He then had the cemetery fenced so the graves would not be disturbed and donated the Rosewood Cemetery to Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF).
The original cemetery was approximately eight acres in size. Today, a space a little more than an acre in size is all that remains. 411 graves are listed in records as being located at Rosewood. However, markers only exist for only around 20. The first person buried was Robert Bailey on February 1, 1912, and the last burial was Frank Boyer on June 29, 1944.
The Texas Historical Commission has designated the burial ground as historic, creating a protection for the property requiring that it always be maintained as a cemetery.
Dwayne Jones, executive director of GHF said,
It is very unusual for a historic preservation organization to become the owner of a cemetery, but it is a progressive idea. By doing this we are able to recognize the cemetery as sacred grounds for the families of those buried there as well as a valuable part of the cultural landscape for the whole community.