HISTORIC WHEATLAND CEMETERY

In the official Dallas County records, the address for the Wheatland Cemetery is 7950 Hampton Road. It is near the southwest corner of the J.W. Taylor Survey No 1475. In this beautifully maintained cemetery that is still active, are wonderful stories of Dallas County pioneers. Some of the first citizens to come to this area of the Three Forks of the Trinity helped organize Wesley Chapel and other early Methodist churches. Early records detail the growth of the areas now known as De Soto and Duncanville and the tornado that wiped out Cedar Hill in 1856. The cemetery is adjacent to the white, frame Wheatland United Methodist Church that was re-built in 1912. The first land for the Wheatland Cemetery was donated by Benjamin L. Branson, Henry K. Brotherton and Samuel Uhl in 1875.

Finely Markers at Wheatland

Finely Markers at Wheatland

For several years the name given to this area of Dallas County was Sprowls Corner. Peters Colonist William Sprowls (1817-1899) came to Texas with his family from Kentucky in 1844-5. On the 1850 census he is listed as a thirty year old married carpenter with three children. He was issued a certificate for 640 acres of land. He found and patented 480 acres in southwest Dallas County and sold the rest. The Sprowls survey is adjacent to the J.W. Taylor Survey where the Wheatland Cemetery is located. Two wagon roads crossed near this land where a small store was started by Sprowls. He was a member of the Wesley Chapel, one of the first Methodist Churches organized nearby in 1847 in the southwest section of Dallas County. In 1860 William, respected by his neighbors, was elected as a County Commissioner. In 1862 he was re-elected to serve another two year term. He served again in 1875.

In 1879 the Post Office Department determined there was a need for a post office in the vicinity. The Post Office was established in the Sprowls’ small store. The first postmaster was William’s son, Joseph A. Sprowls, who on the 1850 census was listed as a four year old child. In 1885 the Post Office Depaitnient changed the name of the post office from Sprowls to Wheatland as they thought the similar names of Sprowls and Sowers, near what is now Irving, could be confusing to residents of the area. Six years later the Wheatland Post Office was closed.

Soon after Henry K Brotherton(1824-18??) married Rachel Minor in 1849, they decided to come to Texas from Ohio. Rachel Minor was the daughter of a doctor in Ohio. They arrived before Christmas 1851 with horses and wagons loaded with their possessions. She

and Henry had six children before Rachel died in 1869. As a boy Mr. Brotherton had clerked in his uncle’s store in Ohio, but in Texas he started out by purchasing land, improving it, and selling it. He did this several times. The tornado that damaged so much of this area of Dallas County in 1856 destroyed his out buildings and the movable possessions on his home place.

When the Brothertons came to Texas they traveled with Dr. James H. Swindell and his wife also from Ohio. Dr. Swindell established his practice and settled in the vicinity of Lancaster. He and James Sprowls were early trustees of the Lancaster Methodist Church. Swindell and Sprowls are also shown as trustees of the Bells Chapel near Red Oak.

Thomas Branson (1798-1864) was also from Ohio. The Branson family had moved to Illinois in 1822 and Tom worked on the family farm. When he and Eleanor Thomas were married in 1829 they moved to their own farm and had three children before she died in 1840. Tom married for the second time to Louisa Cole (1818-18 ) and they came to Texas with their five children in 1853. Two of Mr. Branson’s daughters from his first wife came too. His son, Benjamin L. Branson, married Kate Davis in 1886.

Branson was able to give large parcels of nearby land to each of his children. When the Branson family first came to Texas they purchased land east of Brotherton’s farm. Branson brought some of the first Durham cattle to this area and was involved in greyhound racing. He introduced Morgan horses to the area. At one time he had 1500 acres of land and he asked Mr. Brotherton to assist him in managing his land. They became business partners for many years on a handshake deal. Branson was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and officiated at services if no minister was available.

Samuel (1832-1930), Thomas, (1840-1900) and A.J. Uhl came to Texas in 1858. The boys were orphaned in 1849, but they stayed with various relatives paying for their support by doing chores. Samuel had gone to California in 1854, in a caravan as a driver for a herd of 200 cattle that belonged to a relative. When he was eighteen years old, Tom, having heard of the opportunities in Texas, brought a herd of sheep with his brothers, Samuel and A.J. Tom boarded with Mr. Brotherton and attended school for three months. He then worked for Mr. Brotherton until 1861 when he enlisted at age 21 in the 12th Texas Company F of Ellis County and in B.W. Stone’s Regiment. Eleanor Branson married Samuel Uhl and Emily Branson married Thomas Uhl in 1867. In 1927 Samuel’s 95th birthday was celebrated at the Wheatland Church! He lived and died on the Crutchfield Survey just east of the cemetery.

A portion of the 12.60 acres of land donated by Brotherton and Branson was for a school, a cemetery and a church. Now a part of the Wheatland Cemetery, there was a section that was used as a family cemetery for the Branson, Brotherton and Uhl families. This is where Tom Branson had been buried when he died in 1864. For a long time the only burials were those who

were relatives of the land donors. This area was called the Branson Brotherton Cemetery and there was an association that granted the land to the Wheatland Cemetery in 1913. The first known burial in the cemetery of a person not related to Branson or Brotherton was that of a Miss Rogers who died of malaria in 1868.

The over two acres of land that had been used by the Wheatland Masonic Lodge was given to the cemetery in 1880. Land that was within the Wesley Chapel School District was turned over in 1880. At one time there was a Prairie Land Cemetery on .92 acres that became part of Wheatland Cemetery in 1909. In April 1965 an endowment fund was established to maintain the cemetery.

Wesley Chapel was one of the first Methodist churches organized in the southwestern section of what is now Dallas County in 1847. The burial ground associated with that church was a little north of the church. A small one room log structure was built for people of all faiths as this was the only church in the area. Circuit riding ministers of all faiths attended to this congregation. The tornado that destroyed the small village of Cedar Hill in April 1856 also destroyed this little church. The congregation rebuilt and the structure stood for nearly thirty years. Four pecan trees were planted to delineate the site and for many years were all that was left to mark the spot. The oldest marked gravesite in the cemetery was that of Margaret Garner whose headstone said, “She died so young.” The last known burial was in 1932. This land changed hands in 1968 and the developers agreed to move the graves to Wheatland Cemetery. They also had agreed to erect a marker indicating that this was the site of Wesley Chapel. The developers failed to fulfill their promise!

 

It was estimated that about forty graves sites were in the Wesley Chapel Cemetery and it is not known how many were actually moved. One record shows the headstone for Nannie Laster (2/15/1865-7/22/1902) who married F.L. Garner in 1884 was moved. William Garner and M. Margaret Garner were on the list of those moved. Andrew Jackson Garner (1810-1902) married Eliza Jane Carr in 1844 but they were divorced in 1882. She died in 1905 and is buried at Wheatland Cemetery. Family legend says that “A.J. Garner fell off a wagon when he was 92 or would still be active!” He is buried at Wheatland. William Can (1801-1872) left Indiana and came to Texas to fight in the War with Mexico. After the war he settled in Dallas County. He and his wife Elizabeth both died in 1872 and were buried at the cemetery adjacent to Wesley Chapel. They have been moved to Wheatland Cemetery.

Columbus Pelt came to Texas after 1865 and lived in Ellis County. He met and married Sarah Louise Seymour, a widow, in 1874. She was a Can descendant. They had three children James, John, (1877-1945) and Lellah before Columbus died in 1880. Widow Sarah Louise later married Carter Smith, and this union produced four more children, Olin, Clint, Hoke, and Gertrude. John Pelt later moved to Dallas County and lived with his aunt, Anna Jane Pelt Barker and her husband, Charles Thomas Barker. The Barker family had owned land in the area since 1846. John Pelt went to school for only three months, but living on the Barker’s farm he learned many crafts and was interested in various things. In 1900 John was appointed to the Road Overseer’s Commission. During this period it was the duty of the County Commissioners to classify all roads and the law stated that all able bodied men between the ages of twenty-one and fifty would maintain the roads. They were to work five days a year! John Pelt was the Overseer for Duncanville and De Soto. John became a contractor building fine homes. He was in business with his two half brothers Clint and Hoke Smith. The home he built for his family on Hustead has a Texas Historical Marker, as it was one of, if not the first brick home, built in Duncanville. John C. Pelt Jr. was the president of the Wheatland Cemetery Association from 1967 until 1984 and was instrumental when the Trust Fund for Perpetual Care was established. There are many members of the Pelt and Smith family buried at Wheatland Cemetery.

One of the best known members of the Brandenburg family was John Brandenburg (1831­1974). He has been described as a fiery circuit riding Methodist preacher during the Civil War period who was first buried at the Wesley Chapel Cemetery. John was the father of Ben F. Brandenburg (1862-1934) a City of Dallas Police Chief from 1905-1909. In 1908 he and his men were able to save many lives in rescue boats when the Trinity River flooded in Dallas. He was elected Dallas County Sheriff from 1910 until 1914. John, Benjamin F. and Etta Nance Brandenburg, his wife, are now buried at Wheatland.

Thirteen members of the Penn family who came to Texas in 1 854 are buried at Wheatland. John Anderson and Nancy Anderson Penn (1805-1887) brought their nine children with them. John W. Penn died from a rattlesnake bite in 18–. He had reached into some tall grass to pick something up and the snake was there. Joseph Penn (1826­1899) the eldest son married Nancy Shoup Penn in 1849 and had five children. Several children and two babies are buried here. Nancy Anderson Penn, the divorced wife of John Anderson Penn, is buried here. John Anderson Penn remarried and moved back to Illinois. A portion of the original land acquired by John Anderson Penn is now a State Park and is preserved for future generations to tour.

George (1 820-1896) and Elizabeth Glandon Butcher (1846-1890) are buried here. Their children intermarried with other nearby families.

Tennessee native Lutecia Horn Finley (1804-1882) was the widow of Thomas Finley when she came to Texas with her eight children in 1868. There are six headstones at Wheatland for members of this family.

Tennessee native John Shelby Wisdom (1854-1931), his wife Harriet (Hattie) Roberts Wisdom (1851-1918) and her son Pinkney Wright (1867-1925) along with their son John Polk Wisdom are all buried at the Wheatland Cemetery.

The name of Camp Wisdom is known by thousands who were Boy Scouts in the North Texas Area and attended camp at the site that was donated by John Shelby Wisdom. As a child his large family had moved from Tennessee to Arkansas where John Shelby stayed until as a teenager he came to Texas and worked at various jobs on farms and ranches. He met twelve year old Pinkney Wright whose mother, Hattie, was a widow. Hattie and John married in 1880 moving around several places until they came to Dallas County and purchased 147 acres of land in 1897 for $400.00. Later they acquired more land. This acreage near Cedar Hill is where they farmed. Hattie died in 1918 but Pinkney continued to live with John Wisdom.

Just west of this property was the Boy Scout camp and John and Pinkney could watch what was going on “next door.” Wisdom was particularly impressed by an Easter service in the woods in 1920 and invited the Boy Scouts to camp on his land too. In 1922 John and Pinkney deeded 185 acres of land to the Dallas Council of Boy Scouts retaining a life estate on a portion of it. John spent a lot of time with the Boy Scouts. In 1924 the house he and Pinkney lived in burned and the Boy Scouts immediately began rebuilding it. Pinkney died in 1925 leaving John alone, but not for long as the Boy Scouts reunited him with his older brother, who he had not seen for many years. When John Shelby Wisdom died in 1931 he was mourned by his family and thousands of Boy Scouts.

The Wheatland Cemetery Association carefully manages the endowment for this site that has recently been declared a Historic Texas Cemetery.

Courtesy Dallas County History From the Ground Up, Volume III by Frances James.

Other historic cemetery information can be found here.