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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 > Genealogy Center in Haggard Library >