Neighbors seek maintenance of historic Dallas cemetery

Dallas City Council Member Carolyn King Arnold seeks answers on property ownership

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Maintenance of a historic Dallas cemetery is in question after officials say descendants stopped sending payments.

Carolyn King Arnold, the neighborhood’s Dallas City Council member, is trying to help neighbors solve the riddle of exactly who owns the Miller Family Cemetery Friday.

“We want this to take care of this jewel in this city and the history,” Arnold said.

The council member asks anyone with information about Miller Family descendants to email district4@dallas.gov.

In an alley near Bonnie View Road and King Cole Drive, a gate guards the remains of William Brown Miller, his descendants, and many of the slaves who helped build his wealth in early pioneer Dallas.

“And that’s what makes this so historical, is that it’s former slaves, our ancestors, who’d want to keep this area clean and beautiful for the City of Dallas and for the people who live in this neighborhood,” said neighbor Melvin Traylor.

Miller came to Dallas in 1847 and died in 1899. He operated Miller’s Ferry, a Trinity River crossing that came before bridges were constructed.

A Dallas Elementary School with Miller’s name is near the cemetery, on a site once part of the thousands of acres Miller owned in the area of Bonnie View and East Kiest Boulevard.

Miller’s mansion once stood near the school site on Bonnie View Road. It was dismantled, moved, and reconstructed in Old City Park as part of its heritage.

The cemetery is surrounded by homes in a neighborhood that was called Millermore.

Malone Woods, who said he maintained the cemetery for many years, said Miller's descendants held family reunions at the cemetery in the past.

But Woods said payments for cemetery upkeep from Miller descendants recently stopped coming.

“All of a sudden, they said that the citizens are supposed to be taking care of it. So, they dropped the ball right there,” Woods said.

It is very difficult to reach the small, isolated cemetery behind homes, but the people pursuing the preservation effort hope other people will be able to appreciate it in the future.

“This is private property basically, so we can’t just come in and declare it to be a park. But what we can declare it to be is a community effort to take care of property that effects their property and out of respect for the history within Dallas,” Arnold said.

The city council member said high weeds and overgrowth of the property become a code enforcement issue for the city.

“And the code issues affect quality of life. And that is what brings me into this particular experience of history. And so, I thought it was very interesting as we delve deeper, to figure out just whose responsibility it is at this point in time,” Arnold said. 

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