ASK JOHN: Cemetery has burials that predates it

Jimmy Joe: Your weekly commentary inspired me to unclutter my mind by seeking answers to several questions I have had about old Burleson. I made a list of more than 20 questions, but so you can stay focused I thought I would start with one. My question for now is: Who was the first person to be buried in the Burleson Memorial Cemetery?

John: I am proud that you asked me an easy question first off. One of my favorite people, Mary Norris, compiled a list of the marked graves in the Burleson Memorial Cemetery. The list was published in our history book, "Burleson, Texas: The First 100 Years," beginning on page 269.

But first, it is important for you to understand that the Burleson Memorial Cemetery is what I consider a new cemetery. It was organized in November 1909.

The history book mentions four earlier cemeteries that were used by settlers living in the area we now call Burleson. The first headstone in the Bethesda Cemetery records a deceased date of 1856. The oldest headstone in the Prairie Springs Cemetery marks the grave of Patsy Bransom, the first of Benjamin Bransom’s three wives buried in the cemetery. Benjamin Bransom established the cemetery on his land in Patsy’s honor in 1857. Marystown Cemetery has a headstone dated 1864, and the Oak Grove Cemetery began in 1874. Bethesda Cemetery is 53 years older than the Burleson Memorial Cemetery.

The beginning of the Burleson Cemetery Association [Burleson Memorial Cemetery] began when Dr. J.F. Dunn [Nola Dunn’s husband], Dr. S.P. McNarin and Mr. W.P. Lace purchased five acres from B.F. Clark on Nov. 19, 1909, to begin the cemetery.  The purchase price was $375. The first person buried in the new cemetery was Caroline Orr, who died Feb. 10, 1910. The other burial in October 1910 was T.L. Cecil.

There are four headstones in the Burleson Memorial Cemetery which have dates prior to November 1909. A.W. Rushing has a headstone dated in 1872 and Mary Belle Hunter’s headstone is dated in 1905. Thelma Lorena McNarin was buried on the land in April 1909 at age 8, and 3-year-old Bayless Overton was buried there in June 1909. All other marked graves are dated after November 1909. The remains of these four may have been moved to the new cemetery after it was established.

There were six burials in 1911 and six in 1912. The Burleson Memorial Cemetery continues to grow as the area becomes more and more populous. Today, the cemetery is beautiful and the final resting place of many of Burleson’s finest citizens.  

A person wiser than I once stated that a tombstone usually had two dates with a hyphen in the middle. The dates are not important. That which is important is what that person did during the hyphen. Did they leave the world a better place to live because they were here? We all need to keep this thought in mind as we dash through life.

John Duke Smith is a Burleson history buff. Ask him a question you've always wondered about with the subject "Ask John" at johndukesmith@sbcglobal.net and what he finds out may be a future column.

Burleson Star

327 N.W. Renfro St.
PO Box 909
Burleson, TX 76028-0909

Phone: 817-295-0486
FAX: 817-295-5278