Settlers began arriving in this area, once a part of Robertson's Colony, in the 1850s. Early families included the Casters, Borahs, Sowers and Haleys. Following the Civil War, freedmen moved to the area, and friends and families once separated by slavery were reconnected. Jim Green, the first African American landowner in what became known as the Bear Creek community, bought his acreage in 1878. Others soon followed: Jim Chivers, Ben and Rose Dilworth, Alex King, Elizabeth Lawson, Collins and Rachel Patton, D.W. Ellison (Ellerson), Sam Sweat, the Trigg family and Minnie Shelton (Sheldon), who later donated land for Shelton's Bear Creek Cemetery.
These families organized the Shady Grove Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in 1884, erecting a one-room church and school building on land donated by Jim Green. The congregation, which built a larger structure in 1897, continued to grow and worship together throughout the 20th century.
The Bear Creek community school, known as Freedom School, began as a private education facility. The students later transferred to Grand Prairie's Dal Worth School, which became County Colored School No. 2. It, along with schools from the Sowers community, were annexed to the Irving Independent School District in 1955. Early teachers in the Bear Creek settlement included Josie Davis and
Earlie Mae Wheeler.
Approximately 150 years after the first settlers came to the area, the once rural Bear Creek settlement is experiencing rapid growth from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and related highway and airport expansion. Shelton's Bear Creek Cemetery is one of few links to the settlement and the lives of the families who contributed over the years to the community.