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"Here Lies Dallas History"



Set on a grassy hill in the shadow of Dallas' tallest skyscrapers lies an often overlooked piece of the city's history. Dating back 154 years to a time when Dallas was a tiny North Central Texas town, those buried here paved the way for the city's future. Names carved in weathered stone leap out, begging for attention, a silent roll call of the city's early movers & shakers. Each played a part in shaping Dallas into the cosmopolitan city it is today. They came here in horse drawn wagons and on foot, from different states and all walks of life.

They struggled daily to build meaningful lives & while some left, many lived out their lives & remained not far from the spot on the east bank of the Trinity River (the present day site where the triple underpass now carries Elm, Main & Commerce Streets under the Union Station Terminal Railroad tracks) where founder John Neely Bryan chose to establish the city of Dallas in 1841.

In its establishment, the cemetery was placed on a hill in the SW part of downtown Dallas overlooking a majestic view of downtown and the Trinity to the west. The elevation of the land had less to do with the view than that the Trinity was prone to flood & protective levees were not yet in place at that time. Tall buildings now obscure its original view. Historians believe the first burials, those of two small children, took place sometime between 1846-1849, before it was officially set aside as a graveyard by joint collaboration of the Masons & Odd Fellows fraternal organizations in 1857. The earliest recorded headstones date from four years earlier, but historian Willie Flowers Carlisle, who authored the first definitive history of the cemetery, wrote in "History of the Old Cemetery" that there was evidence of prior burials. The last burials in the cemetery took place from 1921-1928. In the 1850s, the population of Dallas was less than 1000 at that time & life in the 19th century was harsh; many died of various causes at what would be considered by today's standards to be a young age.

Dallas Pioneer Park Cemetery is the final resting place of six Dallas Mayors, three War of 1812 Veterans, nine heroes of the Texas Revolution, twenty-nine (one Union & twenty-eight Confederate) Civil War Veterans, fourteen Peters Colonists, five members of the La Reunion French Colony, four Colonels of the Confederacy, two County Judges, two District Judges, two notable historical women, one State Senator, one Lieutenant Governor & numerous other city & county officials of the earliest governments of Dallas County, including early doctors, lawyers, clergymen, merchants, fallen law enforcement officers & firemen, engineers, business leaders, mothers & children. The epitaphs & artwork of the monuments honoring loved ones long gone meant something to those left behind. The markers that have withstood the years, elements & vandals remain as a tangible link to Dallas' past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Project Designer: Julia D. Quinteros de Hernandez
September 1, 2006