Saving San Jose Cemetery I: Why the community is shouldering responsibility
AUSTIN (KXAN)— Joaquin Rodriguez just found recently found out where his father was buried in Austin.
His father, along with other relatives of Rodriguez, rests in the San Jose I Cemetery in East Austin.
"If you were low-income, and needed a place to put your relatives...this was known as this where you go," Rodriguez said.
That's why a few years ago, he founded the San Jose Montopolis Cemetery Association. It's a community group that works to maintain and preserve San Jose I and II Cemetery grounds.
It has a lot of history and has been around since the early 1900s. It's where Latino and indigenous families have come to bury their loved ones.
The February 2023 winter storm left a path of debris and even slightly damaged grave markers. On Saturday, Rodriguez and other community members spent the day cleaning up.
"In that whole process of, of discovering my, my roots, I just saw a need, that I just found a need for a bigger initiative to occur other than just individuals coming out here and taking care of one little area of land," Rodriguez said.
The grounds have been somewhat neglected over the years, some headstones even completely covered with overgrown shrubs and limbs.
Rodriguez is hoping he and others can change that. He said he plans to organize community clean-ups at the cemetery every spring and fall. The group puts out updates on its Facebook page and other social media accounts.