The Christus statue is a full-sized copy of the original in Copenhagen, Denmark and only of of five copies in the United States. This world class piece of art was placed by grief-stricken Ben and Mamie Powell in the early 1930s to honor their son Rawley, who bled to death at age 6 from a tonsillectomy.
Ben was a struggling young Huntsville attorney, and he and Mamie saved for years by putting a gift of whatever money they could afford on the Christmas tree in Rawley's memory. Finally, when oil was discovered on family lands, they could afford the magnificent copy of the Thorvaldsen statue. Ben went on to become a politically powerful judge and attorney in Austin. One of his young clerks in his law firm was Lyndon B. Johnson.
To find the statue follow the sidewalk adjacent Sam Houston's grave until you reach a paved drive. Follow the drive a short distance beyond the 90 degree turn in the pavement until you see a walkway between the gravestones on the left. You will see where cars have pulled off the pavement and parked. Alternatively you can drive into the cemetery from 9th St. and park near the90 degree turn in the pavement. Walk to the edge of the woods, and suddenly the statue will appear to you. The dark green patina of the bronze tends to make it blend into the trees behind it. Note that the statue and markers are one of the few in the cemetery not to face east. Be sure to read the Sidney Lanier poem on the side of the base, which explains the setting.
Besides Sam Houston and several of his relatives (photos 4 and 5), many famous people are buried in Oakwood Cemetery including Henderson King Yoakum (1810-1856) who was a good friend of Sam Houston. Yoakum County, Tex. is named for him.
Henderson King Yoakum was born September 6, 1810 in Claiborne County, Tennessee, graduated from West Point, married and had nine children. He was Mayor of Murfreesboro, Tenn. in 1837; and a member of Tennessee state senate from 1839 to 1845. He moved to Texas and was instrumental in making Huntsville the county seat of Walker County. In 1855 he completed his two-volume "History of Texas from Its First Settlement in 1685 to Its Annexation to the United States in 1846" He died November 30, 1856.
Another notable interment at the cemetery is Joshua Houston who was a sllave to Margaret Lea's family. When she married Sam Houston, they took Joshua and other household slaves to the West. He was taught to read and write and was freed by Houston, (against the law). He was a successful businessman; church leader and a deacon; Huntsville, Texas City Alderman; Texas delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1888. He was father of 8 children and he is buried next to Sylvestre Baker Houston, his wife a few yards from the grave of Sam Houston.
I did not see the Thorwaldsen Statute of Christ in Oakwood Cemetery. The copy of the famous Thorwaldsen original in Copenhagen, Denmark, was placed here by Judge and Mrs. Ben Powell as a monument to their son.
The sign in photo 2 says (in part) "This cemetery existed as early as 1846, for three graves were placed here that year. Pleasant Gray, Huntsville's founder, deeded in 1847 a 1,600-square foot plot at this site. The original tract has been greatly enlarged by other donations from local citizens. Numerous graves bear the death date 1867, when a yellow-fever epidemic swept the county."
Across the street (photo 3), is a monument or centoph to soldiers who were called into service for the war against Mexico.