History here on the Texas plain
In names, in dates, in marker refrain
Even a brush with cinema fame
Unassuming Bagdad Cemetery.
The historical marker on site (WM9887) gives a thumbnail history:
Opened 1857 with burial of 3-year-old John Babcock, whose father Charles later gave tract to community. Other early burials were Civil War veteran John Haile and Col. C. C. Mason.
Leander, founded 1882 when railroad bypassed Bagdad, shares use of this tract, enlarged in 1959 and 1966. (1972)
Operated by the Bagdad Cemetery Association Leander, TX 78641 512-259-4855
Williamson County, Texas Digital Cemetery Project (visit link
lists the following statistics:
Total Burials Recorded: 1864
Earliest Burial: Hallie Sprouse (1810)
(this gives the lie to the historical marker, doesn't it? Unless she was moved there after the cemetery's establishment -- something to research!)
Most Recent Burial Recorded: Dora Lilly Custer (2006)
Average age at death: 60
Age of oldest person: Terry Lee Evans (1881-1998) age: 117
Claim to infamy: the cemetery was used in the opening scenes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so it's also become a 'dark tour' destination for horror flick fans. If that floats your boat.
For local town/cemetery history, you might visit the official Leander website (visit link
) or (visit link
The latter I quote as an overview, complete with typos:
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BAGDAD SETTLEMENT(1855)
Despite the dangers of being attacked by Indian raiding parties, white settlers began moving in small numbers into what later became the town of Bagdad (named for Bagdad, Tennessee, the hometown of one of the early settlers) in the late 1840's and early 1850's. Soon a thriving little community existed on the South Fork of Brushy Creek just west of present-day Leander.
One of the settlers, John Frederick Heinatz built his home and adjoining store in 1850 near the intersection of present day Bagdad Road and Nameless Road. John later became the postmaster of Bagdad, served as a public school trustee, was a superintendent of Sunday School, banker, and practical advisor to his neighbors. He married Emilie Krohn and had nine children, six boys and three girls, seven of whom lived to adulthood in their home in Bagdad.
In 1854, Bagdad (named after the hometown of one of the residents) was surveyed by innkeeper Charles Babcock and a post office established in 1855; thus the town of Bagdad, Williamson County, Texas was established in 1855. Also in 1855, Bagdad became a stagestop for the Austin to Fort Croghan (in present-day Burnet) stage line and later joined by a second stageline, the Austin to Lampasas stage. Both stagecoach routes made a stop in the adjoing villages of Liberty Hill to the Northwest and Pond Springs to the Southeast....
BAGDAD CEMETERY (1857)
The Bagdad Cemetery was was also started in 1857 with land donated by Charles Babcock whose three-year old son, John Babcock, was burried there. There are many tombstones standing in silent testomony to the early-day Bagdad settlers that died in the 1860's and 1870's. Many were Civil War veterans.
CIVIL WAR END BRINGS DEPRESSION TO REGION
The end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery meant a huge economic loss to the area whites (slave property had previously accounted for approximately half of their wealth).
The African-American population of the region fared even worse. Most blacks left the farms owned by their former masters to seek better working and living conditions, but for the vast majority, the change brought only marginal improvement. Most ended up working as agricultural laborers or as share croppers forcing them into poor living conditions.
PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM IN EARLY BAGDAD
The earliest schools in the area were held in the homes in Bagdad. In 1860, the Methodist Church log building was constructed and used as the Bagdad public school. In 1871, the Masonic Lodge was completed in Bagdad and became the public school for Bagdad. Then in 1893, a free public school opened in the new railroad town of Leander. The Leander business leaders then organized a high school association in 1899 to furnish support for the Leander educational system.
That same year (1899), the Masons moved their lodge to the new town of Leander where it still stands today just west of U.S. 183 near the new post office.
(photo) The original Masonic Lodge, Built in 1870/1871, became a public school in Bagdad. This building was built in 1899 as the Masons moved their lodge from Bagdad to Leander.
THE COMING OF THE RAILROAD
In 1881/1882 timeframe, the townsfolks of Bagdad were told of the approaching railroad line that was being built from Marble Falls to Austin to carry granite for the new state capital building being built in Austin. However, the railroad officials met a solid wall of opposition from the already entrenched town of Bagdad. As a result,the railroad decided to move their tracks a mile or so to the east of Bagdad and establish a new town.
TOWN OF LEANDER IS ESTABLISHED (1882)
As the railroad tracks were completed in 1882, land was sold to the railroad and surveyed into lots to form the new town of Leander. As was the case in most early-day railroad towns, the town of Leander was named after a railroad employee; in this case the town was named for Leander “Catfish” Brown who was one of the men responsible for completion of the railline. The post office was brought from Bagdad to Leander in 1882 and the first bank, Humble & Chapman, was established. Doctors’ offices, lawyers’ offices, and a drug store had also joined this new community. The business leaders of Bagdad soon realized the advantage of being located close to the railroad tracks and a rush was on to relocate businesses to Leander which virtually closed down the town of Bagdad in 1882.