City of FB Takes Over Keenan Cemetery
Carrollton & Farmers Branch

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City may take on cemetery upkeep - Association cites declining membership, wants history preserved
Dallas Morning News, The (TX) - Friday, April 9, 2004
Author: SCOTT STAFFORD, Staff Writer

The Farmers Branch Keenan Cemetery could soon have a new boss.

The association that runs the cemetery has asked Farmers Branch city officials to take over administration and maintenance. Members said that their numbers are dwindling, and they are afraid that if the association disbands, the cemetery might be neglected.

"With it being right there in front of City Hall, and one of the first cemeteries in Dallas County, with three historical markers, we just don't want to see it get into disrepair," said Farmers Branch Mayor Bob Phelps.

Farmers Branch City Council members heard a briefing on the proposal during a work session Monday and instructed city staff to start the process to take over the cemetery.

"It's a very historic place, but our membership is declining and within the next 15 or 20 years, we probably won't have enough members left to keep in the condition it needs to be," said Paul Dafft, president of the board of the Farmers Branch Keenan Cemetery .

"So the officers of the cemetery association are in favor of transferring the cemetery to the city of Farmers Branch to be tied into their parks department."

Settlers Thomas and Sarah Keenan established the cemetery in 1843 for the burial of their infant son John. His grave marker is still there. Originally intended as a family plot, the Keenans later opened the cemetery for friends and neighbors. Thomas and Sarah Keenan and many of their relatives are buried there.

It later became associated with one of the county's earliest churches, the Union Baptist Church. David Myers, who organized the Union Baptist Church, is also buried there.

Among the 1,128 graves are veterans from wars as far back as the War of 1812. It includes veterans of both sides of the Civil War. The cemetery is just yards from Farmers Branch City Hall, close to where the Keenan home once stood, in Old Farmers Branch. It is also within the area identified as the DART light rail station development zone.

"It's in the middle of the redevelopment area, so it needs to be preserved in a manner that is consistent with the redevelopment," said Farmers Branch City Manager Linda Groomer.

The Farmers Branch Keenan Cemetery Association would give the cemetery, its records and about $173,000 to the city to pay for its maintenance. City officials estimated that twice monthly mowing of the 3-acre site would cost about $16,000 a year.

Ms. Groomer noted that officials would check to see whether the city can get clear title to the property, conduct a survey of the land, and the 100-member association would have to vote to give the property to the city.

"It will take a little while," she said.

A section of the cemetery is active, with up to 12 burials a year.

"It's part of our history, and I'm not a big historian, but I do think we need to preserve our history," said Mr. Phelps. "I really don't have a problem with it. I think it might be a good idea."




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