Rylie Cemetery is situated about twelve miles southeast from the Dallas County Courthouse in what was once known as Rylie Prairie. The cemetery, which is still in use, contains over 400 graves and is bounded by Rylie Road, Tufts Road, Mulberry, and the Rylie Christian Church. Many of the early burials are of infants or young children, a testament to the rugged life that overcame them. Several graves are unidentified and some have only simple markers hewn from Bois d’Arc wood.
Rylie Prairie was named for James R. Rylie (1801-1849) who was born in North Carolina. He moved to Tennessee and there he married Mary Snow in Williamson County in 1828. Their first child, Sarah, was born in Tennessee in 1829. Two years later they moved to Illinois where their other children, John Armstrong, Nancy, and Louise were born.
The family migrated from Illinois to Texas before July 1, 1848. On the earliest records available, the 1846 Tax Rolls for Dallas County show that James Rylie paid Poll and County taxes as early as 1846. When they arrived in Texas, they first lived in the village of Dallas with James earning money as a blacksmith. He died after a two week illness of an inflamed spleen. Mary moved from the city with her children to the settlement of Scyene.
She was issued a Peters Colony Nacogdoches 3rd Class certificate which was filed May 16, 1853 for 640 acres, the amount issued for a widow with dependents — one half for her as the widow and the other half to be divided among the children. On January 28, 1862, “for and in consideration of her love and affection”, Mary deeded her 320 acre interest in the patent to her son John with whom she was living at the time. She died before 1870 and it is not known where she is buried.
On July 20, 1878, a plot measuring “70 yards square” in the Rylie Survey was donated to the County of Dallas by John Armstrong Rylie (1830-18xx) for the purpose of a “free” school. The settlers erected a one room log school house on one corner of the plot. Over the years, the log school became too small to accommodate the students and was replaced with a larger six room frame school on other property.
The burial of Redden Allumbaugh would mark the beginning of the original school property being used as a “free” cemetery. Redden Allumbaugh (18??-1889) came to Dallas County from Fulton County, Illinois. He had just recovered from the measles when he was caught in a rain storm and complications set in. He died soon afterwards and was buried on the corner of the school grounds. His grave is marked with a simple stone marker as R. Allumbaugh.
The grave of Hartwell Bolin Cox (1840-1918) who was brought to Texas when he was four years old from Greene County, Illinois, where his family was inter-related with the John Beemans, is in this cemetery. The Cox homestead was near the Shirley’s homestead in Scyene and Belle Starr (Shirley) helped deliver one of Hartwell’s daughters. Hartwell became a railroad agent, postmaster, civil war veteran. He served as a private in Co. B, 19th Regiment, Texas Cavalry, participating in several conflicts in Arkansas, Missouri, and Louisiana. He belonged to the Mesquite Methodist Church. A note in the old ledger says he withdrew to join the Campbellites. He helped organize and build the Rylie Christian Church in 1885. He was a reporter for the Mesquite newspaper. When he died at seventy-eight it was said he had been in Dallas County longer than anyone else.
At one time Rylie Prairie was a thriving community with a school, two churches, a post office, a grist mill, a cotton gin, and several general stores. The churches, Rylie Christian Church and Rylie First Baptist Church, are still located in the area serving the needs of their congregations. It is said the Texas Trunk Railroad platted the town of Rylie Prairie ca. 1878. Hartwell Cox is credited with naming the streets in the town of Rylie. Only two of the names remain today, Ellenwood and Mulberry Street.
The Rylie Cemetery Association, founded in 1962, maintains the cemetery grounds through private donations, mostly from family descendants. The cemetery, which is adorned with a United States flag is in excellent condition, and is protected by a chain-link fence. Both were made possible by contributions from the association. As a free cemetery, anyone may be buried here; however, very few spaces remain. Some of these spaces have been set aside by family descendants of the original pioneers.
This cemetery continues to serve as a constant reminder that Rylie Prairie was once a thriving town of its own. Its early head stones reveal the the difficulties faced by some of our earliest pioneer settlers.
Courtesy From The Ground Up, by Frances James.