Originally called "American Cemetery," Oak Grove Cemetery is located on the 1826 land grant of Empresario Haden Edwards. The leader of the 1826 Fredonian Rebellion, Edwards is interred here. The earliest marked burial on this site is that of Franklin J. Starr (d. 1837), a native of New Hartford, Connecticut and a local realtor.
Many graves from the early Spanish cemetery of Nacogdoches were relocated to this site when the county courthouse was erected on the Spanish cemetery grounds in 1912. The earliest grave from that burial ground is marked,"Father Mendoza," 1718.
Oak Grove Cemetery is filled with historical figures important both to Nacogdoches County and the State of Texas. Perhaps the most famous is Thomas Jefferson Rusk, judge, statesman and Sam Houston's Secretary of War. Like Rusk, Charles Standfield Taylor, John S. Roberts and William Clark, Jr., signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Other statesman and soldiers interred here include Captain Haden Arnold and Elias E. Hamilton, veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto; Jacob Lewis; James Harper Starr; General Kelsey H. Douglass; George F. Ingraham; Nicholas Adolphus Sterne; Captain Frederick Voight; and Dr. Robert A. Irion, who also was Sam Houston's personal physician.
Other burials of interest include those of former slaves Mitchell Thorne, Lawrence Sleet and Eliza Walker, Frost Thorn was among Texas' early millionaires; Diedrich Anton Wilhelm Rulfs, Nacogdoches' master architect, designed Zion Hill Baptist Church on the North side of the cemetery. Richard William Haltom founded and edited Nacogdoches' The Daily Sentinel, and poet Karle Wilson Baker was the third person named a fellow to the Texas Institute of Letters.