Bear Creek Cemetery

Collin Co. Cemeteries of TX

Bear Creek Cemetery

Collin County, Texas — Established 1873

    The Bear Creek Cemetery is located two miles northwest of Nevada, Texas, near George Creek on County Road 544. In the late 1800's and early 1900's the cemetery was on the south side of the Bear Creek Methodist Episcopal Church. The land was given by Henry Cousins Harless and Maston Crawford Robinson. H. C. Harless gave 3 acres and M. C. Robinson gave 1 1/2 acres. At the present time the cemetery occupies only 1 1/4 acres. Both men are buried in the cemetery as well as many of their family members.

    The members of the church and friends in the community went to Jefferson, Texas, in ox-drawn wagons, and brought back all of the lumber needed to build the church in one trip. The trip took about three months. From 1881 to 1891, the church was in the Forney Circuit of the North Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The church disbanded in 1902. In the fall of 1907, C. F. Jones and W. F. Billingsby bought the building for its lumber and built two houses in Copeville.

    W. P. Harris’s first wife Margaret J. (Harless) Harris and their infant daughter, Mary Lou Harris, were the first to be buried in the cemetery in 1873. H. C. Harless’s son Uriah Christopher Harless was a Confederate Soldier and was buried in the cemetery in 1907.

    There were several ministers who served for short terms of one to four years. Dr. James L. Brockman was a physician and also served as a minister of the church. His wife Mary A. Brockman was buried in the cemetery in 1891 and he was buried next to her in 1903.

    The church and cemetery were located in what was originally known as the Empire Community. A boarding school and dormitory were built, near where the cemetery is located, by members of the Masonic Lodge. The school burned down in 1914, was rebuilt, and burned again in 1929. The Masonic Lodge moved to Nevada but kept the Empire name. Now, the cemetery and the Masonic Lodge are the only evidences of the Empire Community. Several Masons and Woodmen of the World are buried in the cemetery.

    There are approximately 175 known burials in the cemetery. Many are original settlers of the community. Some graves are not marked, some have only field stones or bois d'arc posts and many of the markers have deteriorated or have been damaged over the years. Although the cemetery is still open for new burials, the last known burials were Elizabeth Yeager and Riley A. Turner in 1925.

    Through the many years different groups of people have taken the responsibility for keeping the cemetery clean. Members of the Empire Masonic Lodge have cleaned it. Family members related to the people who are buried there have cleaned it when they could. In the spring of 2000, Shane Busby, a Boy Scout, organized his troop to clean the cemetery as part of earning his Eagle Scout Award. We are grateful to the Collin County Sheriff's S.C.O.R.E. program, which has cleaned the cemetery from time to time in recent years.

If you are interested in this cemetery, we would like to know who you are. Please your name and address to us.

If you have a relative buried in this cemetery, we would like for you to write a story about your family and send it to us, so we can add it to the cemetery’s records. Donations are also welcome.

Becky Sander-Cederlof, Secretary/Treasurer
Bear Creek Cemetery Foundation
3202 Fair Oak Drive
Rowlett, TX 75089
    On June 26, 2001, the Bear Creek Cemetery Foundation was formed for the purpose of caring for the cemetery. The foundation meets once a year and would like to improve cleaning efforts, erect a new fence, gates and a sign. Another goal of the foundation is to gradually repair the many broken markers.
    The Foundation applied to the Texas Historical Commission to designate Bear Creek Cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery, and this designation was granted on February 28, 2005.

    On Dec 30, 2005 we received the official notice that our marker has been approved! We have sent the money, and expect the marker soon. In August 2006 the Texas Historical Commission approved the final wording for the marker, and it has been sent for casting.

UPDATE: The marker arrived in May 2007, and we installed it and held a Dedication Ceremony on October 20, 2007. The ceremony was very well-attended. Over 80 people came, from as far away as California, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Lubbock, and Houston, as well as all parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and surrounding counties.
UPDATE: Slide Show from the dedication.

(click on picture to enlarge)

We need your help: if you have any pictures of anyone who is buried in this cemetery, or any information on any of them, please send us copies.

    The Foundation chose new officers in the Fall of 2004 as follows:
President: JoAnn Brockman Werner
Vice President: Becky Yeager
Secretary/Treasurer: Becky Sander-Cederlof
Directors: Earl Price
Bob Sander-Cederlof
Mike Turner
James Turner
Tami Brockman Womack
Betty Brockman Tyler

Take 78 south from Farmersville or north from Lavon;
turn east on 6 toward Nevada; turn north on 544.