Fort Worth contributes $50,000 to renovate Pioneers Rest Cemetery 

dfwnewsa | March 20, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Fort Worth contributes ,000 to renovate Pioneers Rest Cemetery 

A trio of women gather by the main gates of the cemetery before sunrise on Aug. 19. The Pioneers Rest Cemetery Association is in charge of maintenance for the cemetery and hosts regular clean-up sessions that are open to volunteers. (Marcheta Fornoff | Fort Worth Report)
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Fort Worth City Council members unanimously approved contributing $50,000 to the nonprofit Pioneers Rest Cemetery Association. The funds will pay for renovations to the historic cemetery, which is nearly as old as Fort Worth. 

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The funds will pay to restore the front entrance of the cemetery and preserve other areas, including a sexton’s cottage built circa 1910, according to a press release from the city. The cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2021 and is the final resting place of the county’s namesake, Gen. Edward H. Tarrant.

“It is really the birthplace, in many ways, of our city,” Melanie Smith, president of the Pioneers Rest Cemetery Association, told council members March 19. “Most people don’t know that historic cemeteries do not get government funding.” 

Pioneers Rest secured an additional $50,799 in grant funding and donations to partially fund the project, including a $30,000 grant from the Texas Historical Commission. The city’s Historic Preservation staff helped the nonprofit secure the grant and will assist the association in completing the preservation work.

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In August 2023, the association placed QR codes next to certain graves in Pioneers Rest to provide visitors with more information about the people buried there. The project was supported by a $2,000 grant from the Tarrant County Historical Society.

“It makes a cemetery a much more human place,” archivist and volunteer Shelley Gayler-Smith previously told the Report. “It’s not just some spooky place that you should never go into. It’s a place that is very human. People who did good things and bad things, who went to church, who went to school. Some were educated. Some were not. It represents everybody.”

Rachel Behrndt is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter.

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