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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Campus

History haunts UH-D parking lot


Ron Gillory says he may have found his great-great-great-grandfather buried under several tons of asphalt.

Charles Gottschalk committed suicide over 125 years ago “with a bullet through his heart,” wrote The Galveston Daily News in 1885; he was not allowed to be buried in a church cemetery. He was placed in his family’s cemetery, which was located in the “southwestward portion” of his family’s property, according to an 1889 lawsuit between members of the family.

The property and the graves were situated beneath what is now the Downtown Daley Lot, which provides parking for University of Houston Downtown students, Gillory said.

“(The parking lot) is so big. It totally encompasses the original property,” Gillory said. “I don’t think my ancestors are resting well having cars parked on top of their graves.”

Other members of Gillory’s family started the search for the graves, but Gillory has since become more involved.

“The reason we got into this was that there’s a trust fund. Part of the requirements on the trust was to make sure everyone’s grave has a marker. That’s why this came up,” Gillory said. “There’s three sites they’ve been looking for, this is one of them that they’ve found pretty good records on.”

The graves had long since fallen into disrepair from a dispute within the family. They may have been unmarked when the parking lot was constructed, but deed records and oral family history verify the location of the graveyard, said Gillory.

Even if the graves were marked, Gillory says, he would not be surprised if the previous land owners had destroyed the grave markers to increase the value of the land.

Gillory is worried that further construction may destroy the graves.

“I want (the University) to respect the cemetery,” he said.

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