On April 16 and 17, 1947, disastrous explosions aboard two ships docked at the Texas City port killed hundreds of people. In the weeks that followed, relief workers led by the American Red Cross and other volunteers labored to identify the victims.
Temporary morgues were set up in the Central High school gymnasium and at Camp Wallace, a former Army post. Eventually, 444 people were confirmed dead, and an additional 143 were listed as missing. Sixty-three bodies were never identified.
There was no public cemetery in Texas City in 1947. A burial committee appointed by local officials used donated funds to purchase this two-acre tract of land and made plans to bury the unidentified victims on Sunday, June 22. An interfaith and interracial funeral service was conducted before an estimated 5,000 mourners. Funeral homes from 28 towns provided individual caskets and hearses, and florists from throughout Texas donated flowers.
The Texas City Memorial Cemetery is still reserved for the 63 people who, although unknown by name, are remembered each year at a memorial service on the 16th of April.