Graves in this historic cemetery date from the 1840s, although trustees of the Brenham Cemetery Association did not formally set aside the property until 1871. It came into operation following concern the earlier Masonic Cemetery would soon reach capacity, given the large number of yellow fever victims in the late 1860s. Trustees purchased the initial 22.77 acres here from J.D. Giddings.
Among those buried in Prairie Lea are veterans of military conflicts dating to the Texas Revolution. Notable gravesites include those of brothers Jabez Demming and Dewitt Clinton Giddings, prominent local lawyers, bankers, railroad promoters and politicians. Influential religious leaders buried here are Carl A. Urbantke, an Austrian-born Methodist minister instrumental in formation of what became Blinn College, and Robert Alexander, also a Methodist preacher, and a founder of Georgetown's Texas University, forerunner of Southwestern University. Others interred here are Thomas B. Dwyer, a native of Ireland who aided Catholic missionaries, helped establish St. Mary's Parish and started a reading room and Free Library Association that led to the Brenham Public Library; powerful U.S. Congressman James Paul Buchanan, for whom Lake Buchanan on the Colorado River in central Texas is named; and Confederate General John David McAdoo, a Texas Supreme
Interesting features in Prairie Lea Cemetery include tombstones with German inscriptions, reflecting the area's early heritage, and Rest Chapel, built in 1897. Both contribute to the site's significance as a valued historical landmark