In the late 1800's, the intersection of Bruton Road and Masters Drive in the Pleasant Grove area of East Dallas was where a dirt road met a meandering trail at a remote pastoral setting. A pioneer named Albert Carver decided it would be a fitting place for his descendants and him to be buried.
But the Dallas pioneer, rancher, and farmer wouldn't recognize the area now. Six lanes of traffic barrel past the Albert Carver Cemetery where he, along with more than 20 of his descendants now rest. And many of them rest just feet, in some places mere inches, away from vehicle traffic.
"You'd expect a cemetery to be quiet and peaceful. But this certainly isn't," said Donald Joe Cole, a great-grandson of Albert Carver. "In the last 20 or 30 years, this traffic has really built up."
Traffic included a wayward driver who took out the north side of the cemetery fence early last year. Today the metal fence is still twisted and bent leaving a gaping hole in the perimeter around the 2-acre site.
"It looks bad. The fence is destroyed," Cole said.
And in addition to the occasional damage from drivers who stray off the road, litter is scattered along the fence and throughout the cemetery grounds: litter that Cole and his family have to pick up on their own. Cole and his family have replaced the fence more than once, last time at a cost of $8,000. The trash pickup and lawn care are at their own expense too.
"Disappointing," Cole said. "The people here, they're pioneers, one of the original settlers of the Dallas area. I think they certainly deserve more than this."
Last year Cole asked the City of Dallas Park and Recreation Department to take over maintenance of what is already considered a historic landmark. They also requested the city consider placing some type of traffic barrier to prevent further damage. But it’s a request that in November was officially denied - the city citing cost and the determination that the site, being too small to be considered a park, would serve no useful benefit to the city.
"Other than the immediate needs, it's the long term," said Donald Joe Cole's wife Laurel of their requests for help. "That's why we'd like to see the city get involved. It's just sad that they don't take any more interest in the original settlers."
So for now, Donald Joe Cole at 80 years old, is looking for help before his days are done.
"As far as I know, I'm about the last of the Mohicans," he joked.
One of the last of a pioneering family hoping they'll get a little help and that their ancestors will be remembered with a little more respect.
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