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Information on Pleasant Springs Cemetery

by Jerry M. Flook


        Pleasant Springs (also called Arkansaw) was a rural neighborhood whose development began with the arrival of the family of Isaac and Hester Briscoe in 1845 or 1846.  By the early 1880s the community, located about 3 miles northwest of Forney, had two union churches and a school.  Across the road from the school the Pleasant Springs cemetery was established, the earliest identified burial there made in 1884.  The community has long been extinct, its churches and school having disappeared and the cemetery abandoned and overgrown in a thicket.

        In recent years there has been renewed interest in the cemetery, particularly by Briscoe descendants laboring under the assumption that several of their pioneer ancestors are buried there.  However, information supplied by Mattie Briscoe Henson (b. 1852), a granddaughter of Isaac and Hester Briscoe, in a letter she wrote to a relative in 1935 indicates that this assumption is erroneous.  Following are her comments in that letter about the whereabouts of her Briscoe grandparents' graves:

"My grandfather Briscoe [i.e. Isaac Briscoe] . . . came to Texas in 1845 settling about ten miles south of what is now Rockwall. In the course of time a school was built about two or two and a half miles north of grandfather Briscoe's near a little willow grove where there were little springs.  It was called 'Willow Springs' school house and the settlers established a burying ground just a little northwest of the school house which was known as the 'Willow Springs graveyard.' Grandfather and grandmother Briscoe and one of my brothers, and quite a number of others of the Briscoe families are buried there.  I was 14 years old when grandmother Briscoe died, I attended her funeral."

        There is no controversy about what and where the Willow Springs Cemetery is;  it is now known as the Heath Cemetery and is located in the center of the town of Heath, Rockwall County (and, just as Mattie Henson said, about 2.5 miles north of the Isaac Briscoe Survey, which lies astride the present Kaufman/Rockwall county line).  And in light of the Henson letter there should be no controversy about where the early Briscoes are interred.  In the Heath (Willow Springs) Cemetery are several identified Briscoe graves in a row in the oldest section of the cemetery and interspersed in that row are several graves marked with field stones or bois d'arc stakes.  The graves of Isaac and Hester Briscoe are not identified, but are likely among these with field stone or stake markers.  Further compounding the confusion over the whereabouts of the graves of Isaac and Hester is the recent placing of new tombstones for them in the Pleasant Springs Cemetery, not in the Heath (Willow Springs) Cemetery.

        The Briscoe genealogy/family history Briscoe-Kyle: Pioneering Cousins, by Larry E Briscoe, 1985, is largely responsible for perpetuating the misidentification of the Pleasant Springs Cemetery and the misunderstanding of where the early Briscoes are buried.  Inexplicably the author, even while referring to the Henson letter, identifies Pleasant Springs Cemetery as the Willow Springs Cemetery and proceeds also to call it the "Briscoe Cemetery."  It, however, is neither.   

        There are only 3 identified Briscoe burials in the Pleasant Springs Cemetery, the earliest having been made in 1905.  On the other hand, there are 13 known burials of members of the Dahn family, including the oldest identified burial in the cemetery (1884).  Therefore, if a name other than Pleasant Springs is to be applied to the cemetery, it logically should be "Dahn Family Cemetery," not "Briscoe Family Cemetery."



 

This Kaufman County page was created February 27, 2005.
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