Quickly-Growing Development Surrounds Historic DFW Cemeteries

We all see it, North Texas is developing quickly, pushing into areas that were once remote countryside.

This Halloween, NBC 5 took a look at some historic cemeteries around DFW that now find themselves surrounded by new construction.

There’s Baccus Cemetery in Plano right next to the Shops at Legacy, Freedman's Cemetery in Dallas at a busy area on U.S. Highway 75 and Lemmon Avenue and Thompson Cemetery nestled up next to Hawks Creek Golf Course in Fort Worth.

Then there’s the Burke Family Cemetery in Southwest Fort Worth, the final resting place of some of the city's first settlers. It’s now surrounded by new construction, but the family’s descendants say it's all part of our changing history.

The sounds of modern life are everywhere on Bryant Irvin Road, where the 21st century bustles with home construction and a new shopping center at the intersection with Arborlawn Drive.

But step through the gate of the Burke Family Cemetery at that same corner and it’s a different world.

“It’s a sense of peace once you get in here,” said Burke family descendant Tex Bentley.

“It’s nice to still have this place to come to and just remember,” Bentley's cousin Karen Wiseman added.

Wiseman is referring to the generations of family who came before she and Bentley.

“We’ve always been cowboys or cowgirls,” said Bentley.

Their great-great grandmother settled the land in the mid-1800s.

“She was the original pioneer woman of Fort Worth,” said Bentley. “They lived among the Indians and they learned to live with the Indians.”

Now their descendants are learning to live with a new environment.

“I love the way Fort Worth mixes the old and the new,” said Wiseman.

They say the developers of the shopping center behind the cemetery are good neighbors who worked to preserve their patch from the past.

“Would my ancestors approve it? I don’t know,” said Bentley. “I can’t answer that for them, but they paved the way for the reason why this progress is what it is now in Fort Worth.”

It’s a continual line, leading a fifth generation of Burke blood to the same spot.

“I must admit, I was a little bit jealous,” said Wiseman. “My brother died before me, so he gets to be buried next to my parents and I’ll be a little farther down, but that’s OK.”

Death can lose its edge when you take the long view. Just like change, it’s the only thing we all have coming.

“We have seen a lot of change in Fort Worth,” said Wiseman. “But it is very comforting knowing that the cemetery will always be here.”

The family also says they like that more people now pass by to see their piece of history and they're hoping the added lighting and a new fence will cut down on some vandalism they've had in the past, especially on Halloween.

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