Early settler James W. Stallings donated the first portion of land for the establishment of a cemetery for area residents at this site in 1880. Two years later, the town of Bowie was platted near the cemetery site, along the route of the Fort Worth and Denver Railroad. The first burial at Elmwood Cemetery was that of Willie B. Nelson (d. June 10, 1880), son of Francis M. and Mary Nelson. Stallings later buried several of his own family members at the site, including his wife Sarah E. (Parker), his granddaughter and his daughter, all in 1882. In 1884, 1901 and 1905, G.W. and Emily Tinkle conveyed additional land to the cemetery, and further additions were made to the site in later years.
The Bowie Cemetery Association formed during the early years of the cemetery's existence, although the exact date of its organization is unknown. The association handled the business of the cemetery until 1938, when the cemetery association officially deeded the burial ground to the city of Bowie. In 1981, due to the expansion of Lake Amon G. Carter, the graves located at Tarter Cemetery were relocated to Elmwood. Portions of a native stone wall that was constructed along Patterson and Nelson Streets by employees of the Civilian Conservation Corps 1935-1937 remain today.
The cemetery contains burials of veterans from the Civil War,
Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Today, Elmwood Cemetery continues to serve the citizens of Bowie and the surrounding area while reminding them of the early pioneer settlers of the community.