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Five stunning bronze sculptures by David Newton anchor this memorial to the thousands of Africans and African-Americans buried in the Freedman’s Cemetery beginning in the 1850s. Most of the original graves were callously paved over with construction of the railroad and its successor freeway. This insult was remedied in part when the remains of roughly 1,500 people were more respectfully reinterred in the memorial grounds with the freeway reconstruction of the 1980s and 90s. Each grave was oriented with the occupant facing east, as was the cultural custom. Artifacts excavated during the process were compiled into an exhibit for the Museum of African-American Life and Culture in Fair Park.
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Dallas’ second oldest cemetery is the final resting place of many Dallas notables such as Col. Christopher Columbus Slaughter, “The Cattle King of Texas”; W. H.Gaston, a wealthy Dallas banker; Alexander Cockrell, “Father of Dallas”; noted Civil War Confederate Brigadier General William Lewis Cabell; and numerous Civil War veterans. The densely wooded corner of Greenwood along Clyde and Woodside holds thousands of unmarked burials in two paupers’ cemeteries. One was the city’s official site. The other was supervised by the Order of the King’s Daughters. You may notice several gravestones in the shape of sawed-off tree trunks. Woodmen of the World, the fraternal organization and life insurance company founded by Joseph Cullen Root in the late 19th century, offered free grave monuments as a benefit until the 1920s, when the cost grew prohibitive.
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Old Calvary Cemetery
Dallas’ early Catholic settlers were the French and Belgian residents of the Utopian community called La Reunion. Part of the Galveston Diocese, they were ministered to by circuit riding priests based in Nacogdoches. The first mass was held in the home of carriage maker Maxime Guillot, whose grave in Calvary Cemetery is marked with a towering obelisk. His name survives on a short street one block west of Woodall Rodgers Freeway. “Old Calvary” Cemetery, established in 1878, largely hosts the stories of immigrants from France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia, the European origins of settlers of that period. By 1926 the Dallas Diocese had established the much larger Calvary Hill Cemetery north of the current Love Field Airport, phasing out burials at Old Calvary. In fact, many families moved their loved ones to Calvary Hill where large family plots were available. Few burials have occurred at Old Calvary since 1945.
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