City of FB Takes
Over Keenan Cemetery
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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
"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
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."
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
"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