Frankford Crossing is a small area that is a big part of Addison and the North Dallas Corridor’s history. Nestled behind the Bent Tree North housing development is a small meadow between the Frankford Church and the Frankford Cemetery, and a line of trees hides the old wagon yard and spring. Katherine Power of the Frankford Cemetery Association knows the area extremely well and describes its history.
“Our site, the Frankford site, which is about 11 acres, includes the church,” says Power. “Some people get us confused with the big church next door, but we’re not connected. They’re our good friends and neighbors, but it’s two different sites. Our site was on the Shawnee Trail, which probably started near Brownsville and kind of snaked its way up through the Austin area and Waco, etc. Hundreds of years ago, the Native Americans would walk this path.”
The “path”, of course isn’t like what we would think of today. At the time, it was probably a mile in width and according to Power, the Native Americans would stop along the trail at “everlasting springs”. At Frankford, the springs is located on the west bank of the creek near the bridge, but up until a couple of years ago it was not flowing. Power commissioned a hydrologist to locate the spring, and it was discovered that it had been capped off by a piece of concrete. No one knew what it was, so the Association had it removed. In the last few years, the Boy Scouts have created a small path leading down to the now flowing springs.
It was there, beside the springs, that the little town of Frankford grew up.
“The Shawnee Trail is very, very old,” explains Power. “Later it was called the Texas Road and today it’s basically Preston Road. In the 1850s, settlers started coming in their covered wagons from the Carolinas, Gerogia and Tennesse and those areas primarily. Well, the three acres west of the creek — we call it the Wagon Yard today because that was where they camped. Again, right by the spring. Then eventually the little town of Frankford grew up around the spring. Water was just so very important, so you will see a lot of tiny North Texas towns that were built around springs, and of course Cedar Springs down in Dallas was the same thing. The spring is there, but the town is gone. Going back to the town [Frankford], the White Rock Masonic Lodge was there eventually and they had service in what is now the northwest corner of the cemetery.”
The White Rock Masonic Lodge also conducted school there and built the church in 1897, which is the church that still stands. In the 1880s, the Cotton Belt Railroad was looking for a station to put in this area, and they considered Frankford. However, the railroad decided to bypass Frankford in favor of what eventually became the Town of Addison.
After that, the little town of Frankford as Power says “went to sleep.” A significant number moved to Addison to get jobs on the railroad. Eventually the post office left and the Lodge building moved.
“What’s interesting,” says Power, “is that people started coming making a pilgrimage [to Frankford Cemetery] every year in the spring to clean off the graves. Today we call that Decoration Day. In the early days, people would come in their wagons, and on Sunday a preahcer would come and preach and they would have a picinic on the grounds. People like my grandmother would bring fried chicken and all that and they would lay it out on one table. So a little organization came out of all that, and our organization today is a descendant of that earlier organization. That’s the Frankford Cemetery Association.”
The Frankford Cemetery itself is the final resting place of many families that have been important to the North Dallas Corridor’s history, including the Coit family, the McKamy family, Lionel Simpson, the Jackson family, the Noell family — Addison was originally called Noell Junction. Addison Robertson, for whom Addison is named, is also buried at Frankford Cemetery.
The Frankford Cemetery Association has since restored the church, uncapped the spring and discovered that the humble meadow is actually original prairie grass — a rare thing in a suburban area.
“We had some tours last weekend,” says Power, “that were conducted by a botanist who is a prairie expert and he is amazed at what we have because it’s the real deal. We have not introduced any new plants. We have just removed a lot of non-native plants that had crept in on the wheels of the mowers. When you look at it it’s the real deal. The restoration of the prairie and the uncapping of the spring has really made the site come to life, and we’re very excited about it.”
The Association gives tours, hosts an annual candlelight service called Christmas on the Prairie, held the first Sunday evening in December, and also opens the little church for the occasional wedding.
The history of Frankford and Addison are intertwined, and it is the goal of the Frankford Cemetery Association not only to preserve the remaining Frankford sites but to educate the public on this time in the Corridor’s history.