The Old Letot Cemetery is on land donated by Clement Letot and can be seen near the intersection of Manana and 10700 block of Shady Trail in Northwest Dallas. The community of Letot, once a separate town in Dallas County began in earnest 1878 when eighteen miles of the Dallas and Wichita Railroad that had had serious financial problems was finally completed to run from Dallas as far as Lewisville.
The land the cemetery is on is a portion of the James Matthews survey. Missouri native James Mathew, who was twenty-six on the 1850 census, was a farmer. His wife Sally was born in Tennessee. Their two children, a two year old girl and a little boy only one month old, were both born in Texas.
Clement Letot had obtained more than 1000 acres of land after coming to Dallas in 1874. From these acres, about seven miles north of Dallas he donated land for a depot and this was the first of three stops on the way to Lewisville.
Letot, who had a nickname of the “Fiery Frenchman,” arrived in Dallas and began farming immediately raising cotton and corn. He soon built a cotton gin, a corn mill, a general store and donated space for a post office in the store. He helped organize and build a church that was used as a school during the week. By 1882 there were 20 families in the vicinity. By 1890 there were 120 families living in the area. The community grew for about thirty years until the 1930s when it was absorbed by the City of Dallas. Now it is surrounded on three sides by warehouses and small manufacturing companies.
About seventy-five members of the families and friends of this community were buried in the Old Letot Cemetery in an unincorporated section of Dallas County. There have been several inventories made of this cemetery. An inventory in 1972 shows the oldest marked grave is that of Mary Marks (1858-1884), wife of T.J. Marks. Interested family members send in names from time to time of loved ones buried in this site, some without headstones. There are at least two Confederate Veterans of the War Between the States buried here. Through the years family members cared for the cemetery, but as they grew older, no one was left to maintain it. One of the workers in a nearby business would come over on his lunch hour and walk around. He was from Vermont and when he found the gravesite of a Union Veteran he personally cared for this spot for several years until he retired and went back to his native state.
Through the last twenty years several Boy Scout troops have helped maintain the cemetery. It was near the corporate office of Circle Ten Boy Scouts of America and everyone in that office knew about the cemetery. In 1995 Mike Horak not only cleaned it up again, but compiled all the names on a computerized list, and produced a map to locate the grave sites.
Very little written history has been found about the people buried here. They do not show up in the County Deed Records nor the City of Dallas Directories as this was out of the city limits One person was found listed because he ran the service station on California Crossing that was not too far away. Birth dates start in 1833 and there are only three burials before 1900. The cemetery was active until the 1950s.
In 2002 for his Eagle Badge Langdon Applegate solicited enough money to buy the material and he and his fellow scouts erected a new fence across the front. Langdon also procured enough bricks to pave the entrance to the gate and this really improved the appearance. An accident happened in 2006 that destroyed the new fence across the front. Langdon Applegate’s parents managed to have the fence repaired. Langdon is away at college!
Noticing all this activity, the employees who worked at the John Deere Tractor Company, that has a sales room nearby, declared they had all the equipment needed so they have maintained the site for several years. The men from John Deere removed the wrought iron arch over the entrance and re-welded any weak spots, re-painted the entire structure and placed it back in an upright position.
The Letot Cemetery is another link in the history of the people who came to Texas and made Dallas a great city.