The Paupers Burial Ground South of Stinson Field in San Antonio

The following excerpt is from an extensive and very interesting article about an abandoned paupers’ cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. The article itself is in answer to a question in Paula Allen’s column, found in the November 1, 2009 edition of

Back in the 1930s, there was a paupers burial ground just south of Stinson Field. My brother, Nicholas Ely Delgado Jr., who died at birth in 1933, is buried there. There are still some rusted markers lying in the tangled underbrush just south of the field property. I talked to the crew who were constructing a helipad for a police helicopter port there, and some workers said they dug up bones. They also said they dug up some bones at a site just south of the larger cemetery on the north side of the field when they were digging a drainage ditch. I can find no information on this cemetery listed. My father told me that part of this cemetery is now partially under the Stinson field property. From what I gather, no one is allowed to go into this area. Some years back, before the brush took over, one could see the crosses there, but no more. I don’t understand why someone wanting to examine the site would not be allowed to do so. — Ben Delgado

Your brother’s birth and death do not appear to have been reported in San Antonio’s daily newspapers, nor are his birth or death certificates on file. Frank Faulkner, manager of the Texana/Genealogy Room at the central San Antonio Public Library, says this is not unusual for the time; he also checked with the city’s Cemetery Division and found no record of the burial of baby Nicholas.

The concept of a “potter’s field” as a public burial ground for individuals who are unknown or whose survivors are unable to pay for their burials dates back at least as far as biblical times. The term was used in San Antonio through the first half of the 20th century, when the cemetery at Stinson was just one of several places used for indigent burials, including the grounds of the county poor farm and a played-out city gravel pit.

While churches, religious orders and other charitable organizations provided space in their cemeteries or other property, responsibility for most such burials has been left up to city or county government since the late 19th century. Unproductive public lands could be repurposed; for instance, a former sewage farm was converted during the 1890s to a burial ground after the city failed to interest farmers in leasing it. The land was turned into San JosÈ Cemetery, with the lower portion between Six Mile Creek and what’s now the airport reserved for paupers.

Read the full column.

Author: Leland Meitzler

Leland K. Meitzler founded Heritage Quest in 1985, and has worked as Managing Editor of both Heritage Quest Magazine and The Genealogical Helper. He currently operates Family Roots Publishing Company (, writes daily at, writes the weekly Genealogy Newsline, conducts the annual Salt Lake Christmas Tour to the Family History Library, and speaks nationally, having given over 2000 lectures since 1983.

6 thoughts on “The Paupers Burial Ground South of Stinson Field in San Antonio”

  1. Can anyone tell me if this cemetery was known as City Cemetery No. 7, which was created in November, 1904, primarily for pauper burials?

  2. My family is currantly searching for my grandmothers grave at the Stinson Field paupers’grave site. We found many markers but unfortunately most all are unreadable. There is hope to find our grave site since it was marked by a car axel stuck into the ground 45 years ago. My mom feels that the area we are searching many not be correct since it is too far from Roosevelt Road. She insist that all of the gravesites have been disturbed and covered over. A helipad has been builded over the questionable site. We will however, go back to search the remaining areas just in case.

  3. The place everyone is speaking about did exist.I know for the reason my ex-husband was working there when they were making the taxi way or runner.He told me they had found bones of adults and also some had adults and small frames buried together.They were told not say any thing and they were all put into a different place together.They were told that if they found out that there people buried there it would mean a loss of time and money.So it was kept hush.They figured no body would remember there was a burial place there.Maria

  4. City Cemetery 7 is under the St Gerard Catholic Church school. It is said that the paupers buried there were moved to Stinson Field. The San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society has published a book that contains the names buried in this cemetery. I extracted the names from the cemetery 7 records. There are currently 2 books that contain the City Sexton burial records until 1902. Check out the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical web site for further information.

  5. I am trying to find a lady that died about 3 weeks ago named Lillian Heffner was she buried there at your site? If so How can I find the site?

  6. I also know for a fact that location (1) existed as recently as 1992 and (2) apparently no longer exists. My friends and I explored every branch of the ditch beginning at South Park Mall that runs eastward crossing Commercial, Pleasanton, and S Flores. Still remember our thrill when we found that old graveyard totally grown over with shrubs and small trees. Had little medal markers with paper inserts. None were legible. There must have been 100-200 of them.

    That said, it’s not under a runway or helipad or any of that (though that could have been a different cemetery or burial ground posters above described!). I just don’t see the markers anymore.

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