Dallas, Texas

Big A Cemetery

Big A is the first known cemetery to have ever served the Rowlett area. Early pioneer families would travel from all the various surrounding communities to the Kirby meadow in order to bury their dead.

Some of the early pioneer graves were marked with Bois D’arc stobs. Most of these stakes have long since vanished. In many cases, all that remain of an entire pioneer family can be found in this historical cemetery. In some cases, cemetery headstones can be the only remaining physical evidence that a certain person ever existed.

What started out as a family burial ground had become a community cemetery by 1871, but wouldn’t be known as Big A for at least another twenty years. It seems as if a school commonly called “Corn Stalk” by the local community members was built across the road from the cemetery back in those days and some kids painted a big “A” on the side of the building one Halloween night. The lettering stayed on the building and the school, cemetery, road and surrounding area eventually became known as Big A.

Early history of the Big A Cemetery reads like that of a master genealogist’s handbook on descendants of Robert and Keziah McCoy Kirby.

William G. Kirby, eldest child of Robert Kirby, died on October 26, 1857 and was buried in a meadow on his own land. He was born in Monroe County, Kentucky on August 25, 1812 and married native Kentuckian Lucinda H. Fitzgerald.

It was during the early fall of 1854 when William and Lucinda loaded up their six children and joined a small group of Kentucky settlers prepared for their overland journey to the Texas frontier. The wagon train then traveled from Monroe County Kentucky to the Rowlett area. The entire trip lasted forty five days. All eleven wagons arrived on November 1, 1854. It was later reported that all arrived safely and without hostile encounters.

Two additional children were born to William and Lucinda after they settled near Rowlett. Their fourth child (born in Kentucky), Marquis P. W. Kirby, died on March 16, 1860. The ten year old lad was then buried along side his dad.

The two week old infant daughter of William B. and Daranah Armstrong Nelson died the following year on December 19, 1861. William B. Nelson also traveled to the Rowlett area as a member of the 1854 wagon train. He married Daranah F. Armstrong of the Pleasant Valley community on February 8, 1861. Daranah was the daughter of William P. and Sarah Sheltman Armstrong.

Anna Jane Kirby died the following year on March 30, 1862 at 45 years of age. The former Anna Jane Nelson had married John R. Kirby while still living in Monroe County, Kentucky. They were also members of the 1854 wagon train. John and Anna had seven children total with two dying as infants. Their children married into the Ballard, Toller, Hughes and Coomer families.

Benjamine Coy Kirby was also a son of Robert and Keziah Kirby. He died on June 11, 1862 at 47 years of age. He had left Monroe County, Kentucky as a member of the 1854 wagon train and as a single man, but soon married the former Miss Elizabeth “Betsy” McDaniel soon after his arrival in the Rowlett area.

Betsy was the daughter of William and Polly McDaniel (both parents having same last name) and had been staying with her sister, Emeline McDaniel Newman in the Pleasant Valley community before their marriage.

Benjamine and Betsy Kirby had six children total. Two of their children married into the Wells families, another married into the Coomer family and daughter Kibby Ann Kirby married Joshua Lawrence Herring of the Sachse community.

Thomas Newman, Jr. also died in 1862. Thomas had been living near the Black River in Wayne County, Missouri when his wife, Mary Sparks Newman died. Thomas, along with son Harmon Runnels Newman and daughter Elizabeth Newman, then loaded up their wagon, which was pulled by a double yoke of oxen, and headed west. They settled north of Rowlett in an area that would later be named Pleasant Valley.

Martha J. Newman, the little thirteen month old granddaughter of Thomas Newman died the following year on December 18, 1863 and was buried along side her grandfather. Martha was the daughter of Harmon Runnels and Emeline McDaniel Newman.

There would be no other burials for the next three years until Lee Coomer, native of Ropes County, North Carolina, died on December 5, 1866. Lee had married Miss Nancy Alameda Myers of Wythe County, Virginia. Their first two children were born in Virginia, but their next two were born in Kentucky. It is not known if Lee and Nancy Coomer were members of the 1854 wagon train. Lee and Nancy had nine children total with three of their daughters marrying into the Kirby family.

Nancy Evaline Tucker died the following year on September 11, 1867. Nancy was the eleven year old daughter of another pioneer family. Her parents were Charles Masters and Keziah “Kibby” Kirby Tucker. Charles was native of England and Kibby was native of Monroe County, Kentucky.

Jessie Kirby died the following year on March 28, 1868 at 46 years of age. Jessie was born in Virginia on April 5, 1822. He was also a son of Robert and Keziah McCoy Kirby.

Infant Robert B. Kirby died that same year on September 7, 1868. He was the son of Andrew Barland and Sarah Ann Ballard Kirby. His father, a member of the 1854 wagon train, married Sarah Ann Ballard of Kaufman County, Texas in 1863. Kaufman is now known as Rockwall County.

Infant Robert B. Kirby also died in 1868. He was the second of eight children born to Andrew Barland and Sarah Ann Ballard Kirby. The Ballard family having arrived in 1847 were some of the earliest pioneer families to settle near the Rowlett area. Andrew Barland Kirby was also a member of the 1854 wagon train.

Samuel Compton died the following year on November 14, 1869. Samuel was born in North Carolina on November 3, 1809. He married Keziah “Kibby” Kirby (not to be confused with Keziah Kirby the wife of Charles Masters Tucker). Samuel and Kibby had eight children total and were also members of the 1854 wagon train.

1871 Thru 1900
Another fifty-five burials would take place in this historical cemetery between 1871 and 1900. Most all of these burials represented family members of the area’s earliest pioneer families and their descendants.

Burials from 1857 thru 1900 are listed in this sketch due to the significance of their historical ties with the community’s earliest history. Those burials are as follows:

Died Born Name
1857 1812 Kirby, William C
1860 1849 Kirby, Marquis
1862 1787 Newman, Thomas
1862 1817 Kirby, Anna J Nelson
1863 1862 Newman, Inf Martha
1866 1823 Coomer, Lee
1867 1859 Tucker, Nancy E.
1868 1822 Kirby, Jesse
1868 1867 Kirby, Inf Robert
1869 1809 Compton, Samuel
1871 1867 Tucker, Inf Louisa
1871 1867 Nelson, Inf Meda J.
1872 1874 Kirby, Inf William R
1872 1847 Miller, W. T.
1872 1871 McClain, Inf J. S.
1872 1868 Nelson, William S
1872 1846 Kirby, Jesse F.
1872 1866 Nelson, Adam R
1874 1840 Compton, William R.
1875 1875 Richards, Inf Lilla
1876 1812 Blankenship, Smith
1876 1812 Richards, A S Senith
1877 1796 Nelson, Nancy Barland
1878 1814 Ballard, Eliza
1878 1879 Nelson, Inf G. A.
1878 1877 Coomer, Inf Arthur
1878 1848 Hughs, Juline
1878 1877 Tucker, Inf Mary A.
1878 1877 Harrison, Inf Lou
1880 1879 Ballard, Inf Nancy K.
1880 1842 Ballarrd, Nancy
1880 1879 Nelson, Inf J. E.
1882 1881 Nelson, Inf Y. G.
1882 1844 Curry, Drucilla
1883 1829 Coyle, Michael
1886 1818 Compton, Kizziah
1886 1886 Wells, Inf Louis W
1887 1807 Ballard, Reuben
1887 1855 Hughes, Susan
1887 1837 Coyle, Beula
1888 1888 Harrison, Inf Ada Jane
1888 1827 Coyle, Minerva J
1888 1885 Pauley, Inf Dorah
1889 1849 Henrie, Phebe
1889 1862 Curry, A. W.
1889 c.1847 Miller, Lucretia
1890 1890 Compton, Inf Marion
1890 1863 Ponder, Margaret
1890 1890 Ponder, Inf Nancy
1891 1891 Waggoner, Infr W H
1891 1852 Coyle, James H.
1891 1843 Favors, George
1891 1843 Hallabone, Maragret
1892 1892 Compton, Inf Minnie
1892 1845 Harris, Nancy
1893 1819 Kirby, Louisa Fitzjerald
1894 1860 Collins, Belle
1894 1890 Peay, Inf Ethel
1894 1824 Hamilton, Thomas
1896 1884 Compton, Inf Martha
1896 1895 Fisher, Inf Roxie
1897 1896 Pelton, Inf Clarence
1899 1830 Tucker, Charles M.
1899 1892 Fisher, Icy J
1899 1860 Wells, Louisa Ballard
1900 1900 Harris, Inf Clarance