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Exploring Historic Cemeteries: The Lost Cemetery of Infants

[The following is an adapted excerpt from my book, Paranormal Texas. I hope you enjoy it! Also, full disclosure: this post includes Amazon affiliate links. If you buy stuff after clicking them, I make a few pennies at no additional cost to you.]

Lost Cemetery of Infants – A Surprisingly Cheery Tale

While single mothers are common in today’s world, and it’s often an intentional life choice, back in 1894, single mothers were shunned by society and had few options.

And it wasn’t just unwed mothers; the world of 1894 didn’t include many choices for girls who were runaways, addicts, widows, or in other unfortunate situations. Many otherwise charitable institutions, including churches, routinely turned their backs on women facing hard times.

To see a 5-minute info-video I made to accompany this story (with photos of Rev. Upchurch and his wife) watch this:

Forward Thinking for 1894

So when Reverend James Tony Upchurch created the Berachah Industrial Home for the Redemption and Protection of Erring Girls, it was a daring move for 1894. His idea that these women could be taught a viable trade and reintegrated as independent members of society was edgy and controversial by the standards of his day.

Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

3 Simple Rules

There were only three rules at the Berachah Industrial Home. First off, you must never talk about the Berachah … Wait, no, that’s something else! Seriously, though, the first two rules were that each woman must do her chores and attend church each Sunday. The third rule required each unwed mother to care for her newborn for one full year before being allowed to give the child up for adoption.

Employable Skills for Women

For work, the women were taught a variety of employable skills for that era such as becoming a laundress, making handkerchiefs, typesetting, and printing. For the latter, the home published its own magazine called the Purity Journal. (I would love to read a copy of that, wouldn’t you?)

Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Spread Over 40 Acres

Over the years, the Berachah Institute spread over 40 acres and became a self-sustaining village. They even had a 1000-seat auditorium for meetings, plays, and concerts. In 1935, Reverend Upchurch’s daughter took the reigns and turned the place into an orphanage. Things went downhill, however, after his death in 1950, and by the late 60’s all the buildings were torn down, the land parceled up, and sold off.

Lost Cemetery of Infants

Today, all that remains of the Rev. Upchurch’s life’s work is a well-hidden graveyard. While it’s come to be known as the “lost cemetery of infants,” there’s no indication that anything nefarious occurred. Considering that it was a home for unwed mothers, there were bound to be some still births and other complications.

Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

First Names or Numbers Only

Most of the grave markers are flat stones rather than standing markers, so they are easy to miss. For the babies too young to have been named, the markers bear only a number, such as “Infant 46.” Other markers simply display a first name. Omitting the last name was a courtesy meant to protect the unwed mother’s anonymity.

Surprisingly Uplifting Story

As I researched this story, I kept waiting for it to turn sinister, to find out that Rev. Upchurch was abusive, or sold the children into slavery or some other awful thing. Instead I came away with an admiration for his lifelong dedication to empowering those who society had turned its back on. (In fact, this is one of those intriguing Texas tales that makes me want to write historical fiction!)

Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Is Arlington’s Lost Cemetery of Infants Haunted?

Reported activity at this site includes shadowy figures seen darting between the trees, the sensation of being watched, the sounds of children’s voices, and small toys appearing (and disappearing) on graves. Some paranormal investigators have even reported feeling as if their hair was being stroked by invisible hands.

If you are interested in ghost hunting, this would be a good place to bring small toys as trigger items for EVP’s and other paranormal activity. If you do, let me know!

Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)
Lost Cemetery of Infants in Arlington, Texas (photo by Tui Snider)

Plan your trip to Lost Cemetery of Infants

Lost Cemetery of Infants
Doug Russell Park
801 West Mitchell St.
Arlington, TX 76013

Please note: The cemetery is located in the northwest corner of Doug Russell Park. It has a chainlink fence around it, but the entry gate is unlocked. Like so many things in life, if you don’t know it’s there, it’s easy to overlook. If you’re looking for it, however, it is easy to find.

WANT TO READ THE REST OF THE BOOK? This post is an adapted excerpt from my travel guide to haunted places, a book called Paranormal Texas.

If you enjoy exploring historic graveyards, you might also enjoy reading my book: Understanding Cemetery Symbols.

Leave a comment:

If you enjoyed this story, leave a comment below! I look forward to hearing from you!

Learn more at my YouTube Channel:

Do you have questions about headstone symbols? Drop by my YouTube channel and let me take you one some virtual cemetery tours!

READ MY BOOK: If you enjoy historic cemeteries and want to learn more, check out my book: Understanding Cemetery Symbols. It’s available on Amazon in paperback and ebook form.

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Tui Snider
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Published inBlog PostsCemeteries & SymbolismHistoric Cemeteries


  1. mmfoss mmfoss

    I just discovered this site/video. I am soon to be 67 years old and moved as a 6 year old with my family to a home on Varsity Circle in Arlington. Along with my siblings and friends, we played in the nearby woods and this cemetery. Eventually this area became a park, the Doug Russel Park. When we first moved there the plot that was to become the park was a small farm/homestead owned by a family named Hauser. They had a few cattle and grew some crops.

    The cemetery was not part of that homestead. It was a lovely place, full of old trees and grapevines that we would swing on. There were remnants of a metal fence around the cemetery and a gate that still opened and closed. The area was full, absolutely full of daffodils in the Spring. As young children, we understood only that it was a solemn place but the utility as a burial ground for the babes of unwed mothers was lost on us. We did know that there were babes and mothers there, but we, as young children, did not understand the concept of unwed mothers in the early 1960’s.

    More elaborate and tall headstones (3-4 feet would be my estimate) were dedicated to the mothers and I remember that the girls were named (first names only) and their dates of life were included on many. I used to try to match the mothers with the babes, but never could make it all fit. I do recall that many of the mothers were very young. There were many grave markers with infants identified only by number or date. Near the cemetery there was a foundation of a building – that as small children we felt that it had been a building that had been burned down, but it did have some markings indicating it was a home for unwed mothers and I recall there were some artifacts (dishes, glass, metal objects) that we left alone.

    As it was so close to the college, there were times that I recall there had been vandalism and we blamed the college kids and would try to clean up but we were little kids and had a hard time righting the taller headstones. If there were no longer any such markers, then they were lost to the vandals. age, and the elements. From your description and the few photos, it does seem that there are not many remaining memorials for the mothers and the babes. I would have estimated that there were maybe 50+ markers/headstones.

    • Thank you for sharing these special childhood memories with me! I would like to see that burial ground when it is full of spring flowers. :)

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