Mar 9, 2022 - News

Family of Dallas’ first mayor doesn’t want his grave moved

The grave of Samuel B. Pryor
The grave of the city's first mayor might stand in the way of the city's planned convention center. Photo: Tasha Tsiaperas/Axios.

A family member of Samuel B. Pryor, the first mayor of Dallas, says she will fight any attempt to relocate his grave.

Why it matters: Some city leaders have discussed relocating the historic graves in Pioneer Park Cemetery, which sits on a hill in front of what will likely be the entrance to a new multi-billion dollar convention center in Downtown Dallas.

Background: Pryor, one of the first doctors in the region, became the first mayor of Dallas after the city was granted a town charter by the state legislature in 1856. During the Civil War, he served in the Confederate Army.

After his original headstone gave way, his grave was marked by the Daughters of the Confederacy.

  • Family legend says he also lost Oak Cliff in a poker game — though that was never verified.

The intrigue: Carol Bell-Walton, part of Pryor’s family of descendants, says she had no problem with the city removing the Confederate memorial in Pioneer Park two years ago, calling it "a stain on the area." But she strongly opposes the idea of moving the graves or headstones.

What they’re saying: "As a relatively young city, Dallas doesn’t have an abundance of recorded history," Bell-Walton tells Axios. "My true concern is really broader than protecting an old family grave. Dallas’ landmarks are few. If this landmark designation is removed just for appearance sake, that is a precedent."

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