The oldest known burials in this Pioneer community cemetery is that of Wiley Wilda Potts. (Dec 20, 1822-Dec 15, 1852). The one-Acre tract then part of the George Akers Grant, was legally set aside for burial purposes before 1860. More land was later donated and by 1910 the site included 3.27 acres. The Birdville Cemetery Association organized under a 50-Year charter in 1917 was re-chartered in 1967. The cemetery contained 552 known graves in 1965. Several families have four generations buried in the same plot. The site now encompasses seven acres and is still used for burials. Texas Historical Commission (1975).
It was later determined the Cemetery's total acreage is 5.4 acres and contains well over 1000 burials.
Brief History of Birdville Cemetery
The Birdville Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in the metroplex. It came into existence about 1850. The earliest known burials in the cemetery are W. W. Potts, and his wife Margaret J. Potts who died in 1852.
Dr B. F. Barkley, who sided with the North during the Civil War, donated the first land for the cemetery. His daughter Alice, at the age of 15, was appointed Post Mistress of Birdville in 1866. His son Lon became Post Master of Fort Worth in 1906. Dr. Barkley and Lon are buried in the cemetery.
The cemetery covers about 5 1/3 acres, and there are over 1,000 people buried in it. A walk around the cemetery will show where many of the street names in Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Smithfield, and Fort Worth came from. The familiar street names include Rufe Snow, Melbourne, Reeves, Popplewell, Bewley, Brooks, McCullar, Hardisty, Hovencamp, Kinman, Portwood, Rumfield, Walker, Boaz, Booth, and Callaway. These are the names of pioneers sleeping there.
There are, at least, 46 Confederate and one Union Civil War veterans in the cemetery. Fifteen of the Confederate graves are marked by iron crosses. One of the Confederates, Henry Clay Daggett, also fought in the Mexican War. There are two Spanish American veterans, six World War I, 20 World War II, four Korean, and one Vietnam veterans known to be buried in the cemetery.
Three historical markers in the cemetery indicate its significance to the community. In addition, the Stone of Honor, near the front gate, lists the name of people who have made a significant contribution to the preservation and perpetuation of the cemetery.
The Birdville Cemetery Association was first chartered with the state of Texas in 1917, when W. O. Reves was president of the association, and the charter was renewed in 1967. Money to operate the cemetery comes from association dues, sales of lots, donations, royalties. and interest from a permanent operating fund. The permanent fund was obtained originally by soliciting funds in 1970 from families with people buried in the cemetery. Only income from the permanent fund is spent on operations and improvements. Unless specifically designated for some purpose, all funds received from donations, dues, royalties, and sales of lots go into the permanent fund.
The cemetery has about 3 to 5 burials each year, and there are a large number of spaces available for sale. The cemetery recently added a curbed location for burial of cremains, designated as The Garden of Eden. Construction of the Garden of Eden was built and donated by Rip and Cheryl Newton Helton to the cemetery.
Vandalism, as with other old cemeteries, has presented problems. The cemetery is enclosed by a concrete wall and a chain link fence. The chain link fence was donated by Miss Maude Booth. The gate is kept locked to keep out unwanted visitors. The combination to the gate is readily available to legitimate visitors. Three mercury vapor lights were installed to discourage vandals.
The cemetery is governed by a Board of Directors, consisting of 8 member elected to two year terms by the membership at the annual meetings held each September or October in the cemetery. Terms of the directors are staggered so that each year 4 directors are subject to election. None of the directors are compensated. With the exception of maintenance, all work in the cemetery is performed by unpaid members of the association.
The Birdville Historical Society has been hosting a picnic in the cemetery each year in May since 1997.
The cemetery, Birdville Independent School District, Birdville High School, Birdville Baptist Church, Birdville Church of Christ, and the Birdville Historical Society are the few remaining institutions or locations retaining the very historic name “Birdville.”
Prepared by Bill Reeves, 12/27/12