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More old cemeteries found near North Texas schools, shopping

The Ayres Cemetery, which dates back to the 1800s, is now in the middle of a parking lot shared by a Motel 6 and a Stay Express Hotel in east Fort Worth.
The Ayres Cemetery, which dates back to the 1800s, is now in the middle of a parking lot shared by a Motel 6 and a Stay Express Hotel in east Fort Worth. Star-Telegram

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to lots and lots of old, small cemeteries now surrounded by modern development.

Last Month, the Star-Telegram did a story about a handful of these graveyards, including the Burke Family Cemetery now in the shadows of REI Co-Op and other retailers along Bryant-Irvin Road, and asked readers to help identify other examples.

Readers responded with several examples of other tiny cemeteries often strangely in the midst of modernity. As a result, we added some of those cemeteries to our interactive map.

Readers are invited to continue submitting cemeteries they know about, and we’ll do our best to research them and update the map again in the near future.

One particular cemetery in the middle of a parking lot shared by a Motel 6 and Stay Express Hotel in east Fort Worth caught the attention of Star-Telegram reader Scott Noris of Farmers Branch.

Noris remembers watching television news coverage back in the 1980s of a big fire at the Stay Express Hotel, which was then a Holiday Inn, near the corner of Interstate 30 and North Beach Street. A spooky scene unfolded on TV, when some of the hotel occupants evacuated by the fire discovered there was a tiny cemetery in the parking area.

“When the hotel was evacuated, the guests were staged on the south side parking lot. A number of them saw the wrought iron fence and grave markers,” Noris said in an email. “In the darkness, and with the light from the flames illuminating the headstones, it made for an eerie scene for several very cold and shivering hotel guests.”

In the darkness, and with the light from the flames illuminating the headstones, it made for an eerie scene for several very cold and shivering hotel guests.

Scott Noris, remembering a 1980s hotel fire near a tiny east Fort Worth cemetery

Gordon Dickson: 817-390-7796, @gdickson

Cemetery laws

State law protects old, forgotten cemeteries from the encroachment of developers. However, it’s up to cities and counties to ensure that the laws are enforced, according to the Texas Historical Commission.

The commission can designate a cemetery as historical, which helps developers become more aware of the properties and protect them.

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