Baccus Cemetery

The view from Henry’s Tavern on the corner of Legacy Drive and Bishop Road is a frequent topic of conversation. A herd of larger than life longhorns, backed by a black iron gate with the name BACCUS in all capital letters, draws the gaze and curiosity of many passersby. Why is there a graveyard smack in the middle of Legacy Town Center?

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Robert Summers’ bronze sculptures, Trails in Legacy, offers a glimpse of life on the Shawnee Trail in the 1800s // photo by Jennifer Shertzer

Turn north from Legacy Drive onto Bishop Road and you are transported to the early 1800s. Baccus Cemetery is the site of the earliest marked grave in what is now known as Plano, but before 1873 this area was known as the Baccus community.

The “Lonesome House” of Henry Cook, a veteran of the War of 1812 and pioneer from Virginia via Illinois, was a landmark for travelers who could spot the homestead standing all alone on a high point along the Shawnee Trail. That house once stood near the cemetery. According to the 2014 book “Plano’s Historic Cemeteries” by the Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation, frontier life along Plano’s Shawnee Trail included the inevitable formation of family cemeteries.

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The grave markers for Henry Cook, a veteran of the War of 1812, and original settler of this land

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The names on the monuments behind the beautiful gate belong to some of the earliest pioneers to settle North Texas. Henry Cook and his wife Sarah Kinkaid had to endure the burial of their son Daniel, whose death was the first in their new home in January 1847, and the earliest known marked gravesite in all of Plano.

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The earliest known marked gravesite in Plano is for Henry Cook’s son, Daniel, who died as a young teen soon after moving to this area

Four Cook daughters married and joined the Dudley, Heustis, Martin and Baccus families. Daughter Rachel Cook Baccus deeded the land for a church and the cemetery in 1878, to be used for burials by the heirs of Henry Cook. A stroll through the markers is a lesson in early Plano history.

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Henry and Sarah Cook’s four daughters, shown in 1902: Martha Martin, Elizabeth Heustis, Rachel Baccus (who deeded the land for Baccus Cemetery) and Sara Dudley // photo courtesy of David Baccus
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The Henry Baccus home (shown circa 1905) was located just north of the Baccus Cemetery, near the present-day water fountain by Mexican Sugar restaurant. Shown in this photo are (L-R) Henry Baccus, his mother Rachel Baccus (one of Henry Cook’s four daughters), his son Ira, and his wife Jennie // photo courtesy of David Baccus

Cook’s house was the meeting place where Liberty Baptist Church was founded in 1850. That early church relocated to the South and today’s Willow Bend Church on Park Boulevard is the surviving congregation from that legacy. Baccus Christian Church was also a part of this site, founded in 1902 when the Lebanon Church of Christ was moved and rebuilt in the southern end of the cemetery. The town of Lebanon, now enveloped by Frisco, no longer exists due to the railroad bypassing the community.

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Henry Clay Jr. was the youngest child of Henry and Jennie Baccus. He was opening a gate to let the horses in when he was 7 and stubbed his toe on a nail. It eventually turned to tetanus and led to his death. On the left is a 1923 photo of Henry Clay Jr’s gravesite, with Rachel Baccus’ headstone in the background. On the right is a modern-day photo of that same headstone // photos courtesy of David Baccus and Candace Fountoulakis

In 2006, Trails in Legacy, the bronze sculpture from the same herd that graces Pioneer Park in downtown Dallas, was installed. The work of world-renowned sculptor Robert Summers, the longhorns, drovers and horses represent the history of the site as part of the actual course of the Shawnee Trail. All up and down White Rock Creek in Plano (near Preston Road), the Trail was the way from South Texas to cattle markets north of the Red River. Before the railroad arrived in Plano, stockmen drove their herds through this area heading north, eventually to Kansas.

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The photo, circa 1992, shows the fence that surrounded Baccus cemetery from the late 1960s. The extent of change and growth in this area of Plano is evident from this photo.

Developer Fehmi Karahan commented about preserving Baccus Cemetery as development of Legacy Town Center progressed. “I am very proud of the fact that we were able to preserve and enhance the Baccus Cemetery during the development of Legacy Town Center,” he stated. “I am also very pleased with the placement of the magnificent bronze collection of cattle and cowboy statues next to the Baccus Cemetery, which helped to cherish our area’s history, as well as created a venue for everyone to appreciate this rich history.”

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Surrounding the cemetery now are shops, restaurants, homes and businesses. But even in 2016, the roads near this historic Texas cemetery bear the names of the early settlers and those buried therein, such as Clara Drive and Ruthie Road. And Bishop Road is still the way to Henry’s, both the Tavern and a Cook’s eternal resting place.

May is National Preservation Month. We encourage you to volunteer with these local groups in their efforts to preserve Texas history: 

Plano Conservancy >   Heritage Farmstead Museum >  

 

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6 Comments

  • Great article, I am 80 yrs. old now but my memories of the old Baccus farm house where I spent much time (before indoor plumbing) brings back memories. I am the grandson of Henry and Jennie Baccus and the father of David Baccus.

  • Thank you Candice, for you’re untiring work in the preservation of our rich History
    here in Texas. And specifically North Central Texas. It’s always refreshing to learn
    more about our earliest Pioneer/Settlers. Kudos for your energy and dedication
    toward this labor of love.

    Robert Summers

  • My grandmother was a Baccus…Ethel Baccus Harding. My dad, Charles Harding is buried here at Baccus Cemetery. My mother passed away this week. Her funeral is this weekend and she will be buried next to dad. It has been such a joy to read the history you have put together about my family cemetery. I have been able to forward this link to family & friends so they can read about all before my mom’s funeral & see what a special place this is! It was very timely indeed for us! Thank you for all your work to put these articles & pictures together. I wish there were more people like you that had the love and desire of Heritage & History.

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