Old North Texas cemeteries being surrounded by shopping centers, motels

When Mary Overton Burke died in 1867, her family chose a remote spot to bury her.

Back then, the road leading to what would become known as Burke Family Cemetery was little more than a muddy wagon path. Today it’s four-lane Bryant-Irvin Road, one of the busiest streets in southwest Fort Worth, and the cemetery with about 100 graves is becoming surrounded by a new shopping center. Visitors to the graveyard now share parking spaces with folks shopping for kayaks and camping supplies at the nearby REI Co-op and inhale the aroma of fresh baked cookies at the Zoe’s Kitchen restaurant.

It’s a classic example of urban sprawl creeping its way closer to areas once preserved for the dead, and the quiet reflection of their survivors. Across Dallas-Fort Worth, cemeteries — many of them small and family-owned — are surrounded by residential, retail and other commercial development.

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