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The Dallas Historical Society salutes these CORNERSTONE COMPANIES
For a while, Bryan was everything to the community: postmaster, storeowner, and his home was the courthouse. In 1843, Bryan married Margaret Beeman. The town was quickly growing. In 1843, the first doctor arrived, and in 1845, the first lawyer arrived. In 1845, the first election was held on the issue of Texas' annexation to the United States. Thirty-two citizens were able to vote, 29 voted for annexation and 3 were opposed. Dallas was now a part of the state of Texas.
On March 30, 1846, Dallas County was organized. On April 18, Dallas became the temporary county seat, and a tiny log cabin served as the first courthouse. Four years later, in a close election, Dallas was named the permanent county seat. Also in 1846, the first hotel, private school, and church were organized. The first cotton crop was planted, and it quickly became a major cash crop. In 1849, the first newspaper, the Cedar Snag, was printed. This paper was later renamed the Dallas Herald.
News of the Gold Rush in California had filtered east, and in 1849, many men passed through Dallas on their way to California. Several Dallasites left to look for gold, including Bryan. He was unsuccessful and returned in 1850.
By this time, Dallas had a population of 430. The first factory was built and a brickyard was established, supplying much of the materials for the construction boom lasting until the Civil War. In 1852, Alexander Cockrell bought what was left of Bryan's land. In 1855, Cockrell built a bridge over the Trinity River, providing easy transportation between Dallas and surrounding communities. He also built a sawmill and general store. After his death, his wife, Sarah Cockrell, built a flour mill and hotel.
Dallas was incorporated as a town in 1856. Samuel Pryor was elected the first mayor. Dallas continued to grow steadily. Many settlers from the failed colony of La Reunion came to Dallas and became leading citizens, adding an artistic and intellectual element to the city. By 1859, Dallas boasted a barber shop and photographer.
Two thousand people lived in Dallas by 1860. The railroad was approaching from the south, and several stage lines were already passing through. However, 1860 was a tumultuous year. Dallas began to prepare for war. Public debates on the issue of secession were held, and a volunteer company was begun. In July of that year, a fire broke out in the square, destroying most of the buildings in the business district. A slave plot was immediately suspected. Two abolitionists were run out of town. Three African-American slaves were hung, and all other slaves in the town were ordered whipped. By December, most of the town was rebuilt. The population was growing so quickly that there was a housing shortage.
In 1861, Dallas County voted 741-237 for secession. On June 8, a state of war was declared. Citizens were very supportive of the war effort. Parades were held, and the town was decorated. There was no shortage of volunteers. Since Texas and Dallas were so far from the theater of war, they gave money, flour, and various other supplies to the Southern cause. A munitions factory was built. When the Union Army began to approach Mississippi and Louisiana, their cotton was transported and stored here.
However, times were rough. Prices for basic household necessities rose dramatically. The newspaper stopped printing for almost a year. Cloth was impossible to purchase.
Reconstruction brought its own set of challenges. Texan slaves were freed on June 19, 1865. Many African Americans came to Dallas after the war because the city remained prosperous compared to other Southern towns. Freedman's communities were scattered throughout Dallas. Many whites became fearful, and the Ku Klux Klan first appeared in 1868.
Many Southerners came to the Dallas area to rebuild their fortunes after the war. They could no longer maintain plantations, but the farm land of North Texas meant opportunity. Dallas continued to grow during the Reconstruction years, unlike other Southern towns that had to rebuild first. Dallas had also become the center of the buffalo market.
Politics during Reconstruction were difficult. During the first election, the voter registration board allowed only those who supported African American suffrage to vote. In 1872, the governor of Texas, E. J. Davis, ordered the mayor of Dallas, Henry Ervay, to be removed from office. He refused and was thrown into jail. The state supreme court ruled that the governor did not have the power to remove officials from office, and he was released.
On July 16, 1872, the first passenger train, the Houston and Texas Central, steamed into Dallas. In 1873, the Texas and Pacific came. With the arrival of the trains, the population soared, from 3,000 in early 1872 to more than 7,000 in September of the same year. New businesses and buildings appeared daily. Telegraph lines came into town, connecting Dallas with the outside world. Dallas was now a concentration point for raw materials, such as grain and cotton, shipped to the South and East. It was a last chance for people traveling farther west to get supplies. Large, grand hotels were being built but most buildings remained plain and utilitarian. Utilities, such as water and gas, became available. In 1871, the first volunteer fire company, Dallas Hook and Ladder Company #1, was organized. Gas lamps lighted Dallas streets in 1874. The first telephone line linked the water company to the fire station in 1880.
This intense growth did not come without problems. Farmers struggled to get fair prices for their crops. After buying supplies on credit during the year, farmers owed the merchants most of their crop. Shipping costs to the coast were high, and the price for cotton was dropping. The Farmer's Alliance, formed in 1877, set up a warehouse in Dallas to ship cotton to St. Louis, since freight charges were cheaper. They hoped to break the cycle of poverty. However, bankers refused to finance the warehouse, and the venture failed in twenty months.
Outlaws were also common during this period. Belle Starr began her adventures in Dallas as a dance hall singer and dancer, and later sold stolen horses and harbored outlaws. Doc Holliday came to Dallas to restore his health. He opened a dentist's office, but soon turned to gambling. In 1875, he killed a man and left Dallas. Sam Bass robbed four trains in two months during the spring of 1878. Three months later, Bass was killed in an ambush near Round Rock.
In 1890, Dallas annexed the city of East Dallas, which had a larger geographical area than that of Dallas. In 1893, a nation-wide financial panic stalled Dallas's growth. Several banks closed, cotton prices dropped drastically, and the lumber and flour markets all but vanished. People began to leave the city. However, by 1898, the city had begun to recover and grow again. In 1903, Oak Cliff, a city on the other side of the Trinity, was annexed.
The relationship between Dallas and the Trinity River has never been quite what Dallas has intended. Trinity River navigation was a dream of many that was never realized. Floods occurred in 1844, 1866, 1871 and 1890, but none were as disastrous as the flood of 1908. The river was 52.6 feet deep and a mile and a half wide. Five people died, four thousand people were homeless, and property damages were estimated at $2.5 million. Dallas was completely dark for three days, all telephone and telegraph service was down, and rail service was cancelled. Oak Cliff could only be reached by boat.
After the flood, the city began to discuss the possibilities of flood control and a bridge linking Oak Cliff and Dallas. Prominent citizens began to ask for long range city planning, and in 1911, George Kessler released his plan. Major points included using levees to divert the river, removing the railroad lines on Pacific Avenue, consolidating railroad depots into one central one, new parks and playgrounds, and the widening and straightening of several streets. Most of the plan gathered dust, but in later years, many began to see its importance. In 1920, Kessler was brought back to update the plan, and by the 30s, many of the ideas had been implemented.
The only thing that the city of Dallas was lacking was a major university. In 1910, efforts began to have Southwestern University in Georgetown move to Dallas. They refused, but this action brought Dallas to the attention of the Methodists. They voted in 1911 to establish a university in Dallas, after the city offered $300,000 and 666.5 acres of land for the campus. In 1915, Southern Methodist University opened its doors.
In 1911, Dallas became the location of one of twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks. The city campaigned for years, and the bank's arrival assured Dallas's place as a financial center.
World War I brought Dallas to the forefront of aviation. Love Field was established as an aviation training ground, and Fair Park was the home of Camp Dick, another training facility. The city bought Love Field in 1927 to operate as a municipal airport.
The Great Depression gave Dallas a new set of challenges. By 1931, more than 18,000 people were unemployed. Before the New Deal policy began, the city established a work-for-food program that helped many. Even during the closing of the banks, many businesses continued to operate as usual. The main reason Dallas did not suffer as other cities during the Depression was the discovery of oil. In 1930, Columbus Marion "Dad" Joiner struck oil 100 miles east of Dallas. Oil was booming in East Texas, and Dallas was in the perfect position to benefit from this. In the first two months of 1931, twenty-eight businesses either formed or moved to Dallas for the oil. Banks made loans to develop the oil fields, and Dallas became the financial center for oil fields in East Texas, the Permian Basin, the Panhandle, the Gulf Coast, and Oklahoma.
After a lengthy campaign, the state of Texas chose Dallas as the site of the Texas Centennial Exposition. Dallas had a long history of hosting the State Fair of Texas. More than fifty buildings were built in Fair Park, and 10 million visitors came to see the $25 million spectacle.
In 1948, a new trend in Dallas growth began. Chance Vought, now LTV, moved its headquarters to Dallas. Other corporations followed suit, and hometown corporations were also making an impact. By 1974, more than 626 companies, including Texas Instruments, EDS, and Mary Kay Cosmetics Inc., had their headquarters in Dallas. The opening of DFW International Airport in 1974helped the trend even more.
Dallas continued to gain national attention. In 1960, Dallas was home to two professional football team: the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Texans. In 1962, the Texans were moved to Kansas City and renamed the Chiefs. By the 1970s, the Cowboys' success and popularity earned them the nickname "America's Team." In 1972, baseball came to Dallas with the Texas Rangers. The Mavericks brought basketball in 1980. Soccer came in 1984 with the Sidekicks. In 1993, professional hockey came with the Dallas Stars.
November 22, 1963, brought a defining moment for Dallas and the nation. Near the spot where John Neely Bryan had first settled, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the murder. Two days later, he was killed by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner. Dallas, and the nation, grieved, and then moved on. But Dallas never forgot. In 1970, the Kennedy Memorial was erected, and in 1989, the Sixth Floor Museum opened.
Dallas soon began to look more toward its cultural heritage. In 1966, the Dallas County Heritage Society formed to save Millermore, the last antebellum mansion. Their efforts resulted in the creation of Old City Park. In 1973, Swiss Avenue was designated as Dallas's first historic district. The West End, an old warehouse district, opened in the '80s as a restaurant and entertainment area. Voters approved an arts district in 1979. The Dallas Museum of Art moved there from Fair Park in 1984, and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center opened in 1989.
In 1983, voters approved a Dallas Area Rapid Transit service plan. Construction later began on a light rail system, which opened in 1996. The system has been successful, and DART continues to expand.
The years of two major daily newspapers ended with the closing of the Dallas Times Herald on December 9, 1991. Dallas was one of the last major cities to have two newspapers.
Dallas has come a long way in the last 150 years. From a town of two cabins to a city of more than a million people, Dallas's focus has always been growth and progress. In the coming years, Dallas will certainly continue to make history.
Copyright © 2002 by the Dallas Historical Society. All rights reserved.