American Elm, Ulmus americana
This majestic American Elm is located on a remnant of Blackland Prairie that escaped the urban sprawl of North Dallas. Located at 17400 Muirfield, just minutes from the Dallas North Tollway and Frankford Road, the tree is a living witness to the activities of a turn of the century farming community.
The Wagon Yard Elm is anchored into the west bank of Hall’s Branch, a spring-fed tributary of White Rock Creek and a vital source of water for early pioneers. Over the years, it has provided shade for traveling families and their stock while they attended church, buried loved ones, or met for Decoration Day.
According to Jacquielynn Floyd’s article in the Dallas Morning News on Friday, May 18th, 2012,, entitled “A Patch of the Past: Remnants of town, surrounding prairie reminders of area’s roots – Site a historical, ecological time capsule“, “The Frankford church is on 12 acres that used to be a tiny prairie town but now is smack in the middle of North Dallas. Naturalists have determined that part of the site has never been plowed, making it virgin prairie, and restoration of the church recently won an award. The Frankford Cemetery and church have endured thanks to long-standing endowments, deed restrictions, dedication and luck.” “…The one-room 1897 church has been meticulously restored.” “…According to The Handbook of Texas Online, the site is on the old Shawnee Trail, an American Indian thoroughfare and later a popular route for antebellum cattle drives. It was a camp stop because of natural springs along the Halls Branch of the Trinity River.”
The town of Frankford was not destined to flourish, however, for the same reason that many prairie towns faded away. Construction by the railroad company went through neighboring Addison, instead of Frankford. However, the native spring, located between the church and the Wagon Yard Elm, was recently revived with removal of a heavy concrete block, supposedly plugging the spring for almost a century.
The Texas Historic Tree Coalition recognized the tree as historic on November 19, 2011. Katherine Wells Power, Frankford Cemetery Association member, was presented with a Historic Tree Certificate to commemorate the occasion.
In the article by Floyd, Mrs. Power is quoted; “We’re the last generation that has clear memories of the rural aspect of life here, of the beauty of how Dallas used to look. It’s important to save little vestiges of that.”
Nationally known landscape architect, Mrs. Rosa Finsley, and historical architect, Mr. Jeff Cummings, were involved in helping to preserve this site.
The award referenced in the Floyd article was given In 2011; the Frankford Church and its restoration team received the Preservation Achievement Award by Preservation Dallas. The grand old Elm, Blackland Prairie remnant, and beautifully restored 1890’s Prairie Gothic style church are well worth a visit.
For more information about the Frankford Church and Cemetery, visit their web site: https://www.frankfordcemetery.org
Because the tree is adjacent to the church and cemetery, we ask that you check with the Frankford Cemetery Association before visiting. Please be careful to stay on paths to protect the prairie remnant and to be respectful of those who are at rest in the cemetery.