On Tuesday, April 29, 1856, the burgeoning settlement of Cedar Hill was struck by a violent tornado that claimed at least nine lives, damaged property, killed livestock and reportedly left only two structures standing. With a resolute pioneer spirit still evident today, survivors went about the daunting task of restoring order to their shattered community.
Among the survivors was Robert Crawford, teacher and pastor of Cedar Mountain Church, believed to be the first congregation in the area. Mr. Crawford owned land adjacent to the church site which was destroyed by the tornado and donated four acres to church trustees to be designated as a free and indiscriminate public graveyard.
Local newspaper accounts (PDF) report that nine victims of the tornado were buried on Robert Crawford's land northeast of where the church had stood. They included John C. Hart, his wife and child, John Berry, his wife and child, John Dickson, Martha Lamar Allen and an unnamed Negro woman.
As the land was deeded a free and public graveyard in 1856, it is possible that others were buried there although no evidence or record of burials after the tornado are known to exist.
Application for designation as an Historic Texas Cemetery, prepared by Cedar Hill resident Wanda Stanton Pitt, was granted by the Texas Historical Commission in 2006. The graveyard was reconsecrated in a blessing ceremony October 7, 2011, and the Texas Historical Commission marker was officially placed on the site April 29, 2012, the 156th anniversary of the tornado.
The cemetery is located in the vicinity of N. Cedar Hill Road and Pioneer Trail. For specific location see Deed Records of Dallas County, Volume E, Pages 549-550 and Volume 641, Page 239, Cemetery Number DL-C231, Dallas County, Texas.