A Brief History
When Shreveport was first laid out in 1836, the need for a cemetery was among the first considerations of the Shreve Town Company. The first cemetery was known as the Fannin Street Cemetery. Its use began almost as soon as the town came into being. Shreveport, in the 1830s, was an exceedingly inhospitable place with a rough constituency of pioneers and little law enforcement. The combination proved a fertile one for the Grim Reaper and, within only a decade of its establishment, the cemetery was filled nearly to capacity.
On March 30, 1847, a much larger, City Cemetery was established on 10 acres located two blocks west of Common Street, on what was then the very edge of the city. This new cemetery opened shortly after the land for it was acquired front Mary Bennett Cane and her father, Dr. Samuel Bennett.
Burials officially ceased in the Fannin Street Cemetery in 1851 and, following the Civil War, it was decreed by City Hall that all graves in the Fannin Street Cemetery be moved to the new City Cemetery. City Cemetery was renamed Oakland Cemetery around 1905, and is now the city's oldest and, arguably, most important landmark.
Very few burials have taken place at Oakland Cemetery in the last seventy years. No more plots are sold at Oakland, as all of the space in the cemetery was purchased long ago. The cemetery is
owned and maintained by the city, but the grave plots are owned by the families of those buried here. Even the ground which appears empty is an illusion, for there are many unmarked graves at Oakland Cemetery and there are, therefore, very few spaces for new graves to be dug. It is believed that there are nearly as many unmarked graves here as marked ones.
About eight-hundred victims of the great yellow fever epidemic of 1873 are buried at Oakland, most in a marked mass grave near the Milam Street side of the cemetery. Victims of other yellow fever epidemics (1853, 1858, and 1867) are also buried here.
Shreveport's first Jewish cemetery, which opened in 1858, is also found here at Oakland. One acre in the north corner of the ten here present was purchased by the Hebrew Mutual Benevolent Association. Many pioneer merchants and businessmen can be found commemorated here.
Overall, the cemetery is the final resting place of thousands of ordinary citizens: white and black, Christian and Jew, free and slave, native and foreign born. Shreveport is their legacy. From their last resting place cars be seen the skyline of Shreveport's modern central business district — here they lie, right in the midst of it. In 1893, a new cemetery consisting 470 acres and called "Greenwood Cemetery" was opened. Since Oakland for all intents and purposes was 'closed' at that time,
we have a remarkable opportunity to preserve and explore one of the few remaining and largely unchanged cemeteries of this type in the entire country! Oakland Cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 13, 1977.