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VISITOR TO DALLAS 63
YEARS AGO RECOUNTS REMINISCENCES OF
MUDDY VILLAGE
ON TRINITY

    Out of the "prairie primeval," Dallas has developed in the span of eighty-eight years.  And, "these eyes have seen it," J. L. Williams, of Dallas, might say.  At least, for sixty-three years since, he was journeying in his father's covered wagon toward Missouri from Caldwell County, Texas, when he first visited Dallas.  As he relates:
    "At length, we reached a hilltop west of Dallas, overlooking the city and a vast expanse of the Trinity River, that, at this time, reached from the town to the foothills, on top of which, we were camped.  We stayed on that hilltop for most of a week, waiting for the water to get back into the channel, that we might reach the ferry boat."
    "That ferry docked where the foot of Commerce street now is.  Within the channel, the ferry reached more than halfway across the river and was propelled but a very few feet, until Mr. Williams and his father's party landed on the muddy shore of the town, Dallas.  Their four oxen stuck in the mud when about halfway up the bank, and the party made its entry into Dallas with the aid of another yoke of oxen, borrowed from fellow-travelers who had preceded them in reaching the town square."
    And this is how Dallas, now the accepted metropolis of the Southwest, looked in those days, according to Mr. Williams.
    "As I now recall, there was a square surrounding the courthouse, consisting mostly of one-story frame buildings and the Crutchfield Hotel, which was a two-story affair, painted cream or yellow.  We remained there an hour or so, posted some letters to friends, bought some navy beans and a pot to cook them in and, if my memory serves me right, we bought the articles mentioned, some postage stamps and mailed the letters all under the same roof."
    They continued on their journey through Richardson and visited there for several days with relatives, then their oxen plodded on through Sherman over the old Preston road to Denison, into Indian Territory and Arkansas to Springfield, Mo., their destination.
    "This was a very slow, tedious journey," Mr. Williams says now, "and required almost two months with our oxen-propelled prairie schooner in 1866.  By way of comparison, we covered the distance from Dallas to Springfield recently in an automobile, in twenty hours."
    His favorite story of his boyhood days in Lockhart, Caldwell County, where he was born in 1858, concerns the trip his father made to Bastrop County to obtain lime for mortar in building a chimney.
    "It was some time in June[?]," he relates, "and my father had left home with the team of oxen and the wagon early in the morning, in order to return before the hottest hours of the day.  He was to bring a load of burned, but unslaked, lime rock.

Story of Hairless Oxen.
    "As he neared home, something like a mile away, he had to cross a creek, which, at this time, stood in pools.  The road curved around the tank to the bed of the creek.  The oxen were exceedingly warm, so much so, they were lolling their tongues about.  When in such a condition, with a pool of water just ahead, they recognize no curves or the height of the bank above the creek bed, but will go directly to the water off a ten-foot perpendicular bank.
    "This they did, drawing the wagon load of unslaked lime after them.  It is needless to say, they did not tarry long in the pool.  Instantly, the lime began to slake and the pool was soon bubbling like a soap kettle with a fire of pine knots burning under it.  As the oxen came ashore, dragging the wagon gear, minus the boards and lime, the show had just started.  All around the pool, running in every direction to get away from the seething cauldron, were alligators of all sizes, from little ones just out of the shell, to six-footers.
    "And, was this the end?  Oh, no.  In about ten days, the old oxen, which were of a deep red color, began to turn to a very ashen red and their hair curled forward toward their heads and finally sheared off, leaving their backs as bare as the hippo's, and their tails resembled two broomsticks, and just about as devoid of hair."

- October 13, 1929, The Dallas Morning News, p. 21.
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