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EARLIEST DAYS IN
DALLAS RECALLED
______

VISIT OF "SENIOR SON" HERE
CALLS TO MIND HISTORY OF
OLD SETTLEMENTS.

By W. S. ADAIR

     North Texas must have been a paradise before the coming of the white man.  When the first settlers arrived, if the story they hand down is to be believed, the rains must have been more copious and regular, and vegetation much more vigorous, than they have ever been since.  Game of all kinds abounded -- buffalo, bear, deer, antelope, turkey and prairie chickens by the millions, with a plentiful sprinkling of larger game, in the way of Mexican lions and panthers for more exciting hunts, while the streams, lakes and ponds, which had much more water in them than they have now, were crowded with fish.
     Great herds of longhorn cattle and wild horses roamed the prairies, while the woods were full of hogs.  With ample rain and a virgin soil, those who cared to bother with farming, produced immense yields of corn and wheat.  Many mornings in the year, heavy fogs prolonged the night, long after the sun had risen.  The streams and lakes froze over in winter with such regularity, that the first settlers built ice houses and stored ice away in sawdust and prairie hay against the long hot season.  The remains of a big community ice house at Cedar Springs are still to be seen.

The Climate Changes.
     According to tradition, the climate gradually changed as the Indians and buffaloes disappeared.  Rain became less frequent and regular, many winters would pass without producing ice thick enough to harvest, game became scarcer year by year, and chills and fever broke the newcomers on the wheel.  For many years, there was no quinine, the only remedy for malaria, and after that specific was put on the market, it cost from $5 to $7 an ounce, and often was not to be had at any price.
     Gabriel Knight, a Tennessean, arrived in the vicinity of the future Dallas in 1845, and took a section of land north of the present city. The following year, his brother, O. W. Knight, father of Epps G. Knight, joined him, having been eleven weeks on the road from Tennessee, and bringing with him, the largest number of negro slaves that had, up to that time, been introduced into this section by one man.  He took a section of land adjoining the section of his brother, Gabriel. Gabriel Knight had found so much game, and hunting such a fascinating occupation, that he told his brother he had determined to make the chase his sole business, and that if he would board him, he would deed him his section of land, and, moreover, would engage to keep the family supplied with meat.  The proposition was accepted, and it is said that the Nimrod brother carried out his part of the contract so faithfully, that he was often asked by his sister-in-law not to bring so much meat and fish to the house to spoil.

Dallas Absorbs Rival Town.
     Cedar Springs, three miles from the courthouse, at first, outgrew the settlement afterward called Dallas.  Cedar Springs had a mill, a general store and a postoffice, whereas, Dallas had nothing more than a single store.  But, when Dallas County was organized in 1846, the settlers held a conference in reference to the location of the county seat.  The meeting yielded to the argument that the river, the normal stage of which, was, up to that time, several feet higher than it has been during the last forty years, would, some day, be made navigable, and that where John Neely Bryan had located, would be a more promising site for the town than Cedar Springs, and, accordingly, the mill, the store, and the postoffice at Cedar Springs were moved to Dallas, and Cedar Springs was heard of no more as a town.
     The reunion of Dallas pioneers, held in Dallas a week ago, has revived so much interest in John Neely Bryan's cabin, the first house erected in Dallas, that it may not be out of place to trace the history of the [cabin].  The house was moved from its original site, on the north side of Commerce street, between Houston street and the river, to Markham's Ferry, nine miles southeast of the city, but whether by Mr. Ryan or another, is not clear.  At Markham's Ferry, it was occupied for several years as a farm house by W. J. Rupard.  Mr. Rupard sold the house to the Rev. J. F. Pinson, a pioneer Baptist minister, who moved it to a forty-four acre tract, which afterward became Orphans' Home. The late J. T. Bolton, afterward County Tax Assessor, rented the land from the minister and moved into the house in January, 1879.

Cabin Built to Last.
     J. E. Bolton, son of J. T. Bolton, said that it was while living in this house with his father, that he made the important discovery that Santa Claus was no other than his father.  While living in the house, Mr. Bolton offered the Rev. Mr. Pinson $1,600 for the forty-four acre tract, but the minister told him that he had already agreed to sell it to Dr. R. C. Buckner for $600 as a site for an orphans' home, which Dr. Buckner had, for some time, had in contemplation.
     The land was accordingly sold to Dr. Buckner in 1880, and in the fall of that year, it was dedicated as an orphans' home, the dedicatory ceremonies being held in the cabin, and a Bible which had been given to Mrs. Bolton by the Rev. J. T. Ryland, pastor of the First Baptist Church at Lexington, Ky., was used in the service.  J. E. Bolton, who fell heir to the Bible on the death of his mother, said that it was his intention to present it to the home, but that he had, in some way, lost it.
     Children of Mr. Rupard, who grew up in the cabin at Markham's Ferry, are Thomas and Isaac and Miss Lizzie Rupard, and Mrs. Jennie Frank.  They all went to school at Bayles[?] Schoolhouse, and all still live in Dallas County.

First Court Convenes.
     The cabin, 16x16 feet, inside measurement, was built of picket cedar logs, well mortised at the corners, and chinked and daubed, with a garret above, reached by a ladder and used as an extra bedroom.  The fireplace was of solid stone masonry up to the shoulders, with a stick and clay flue on that, and projecting above the roof of the house.  The logs of the cabin are still fairly sound.  The greatest deterioration has been from the ravages of an insect, known in the vernacular as the cedar bumble, which has bored into the wood.
     When Dallas County was carved out of the Nacogdoches Land District, in 1846, the first court, which convened on July 20 of that year, was held in this cabin, which was then the dwelling of John Neely Bryan, and there is a tradition that when the postoffice was moved from Cedar Springs to Dallas, the postoffice was also kept for a time in this same cabin.  When Dallas County was organized, it was bounded on the north by the Fannin Land District, which extended north to Red River, and on the west, by the Robertson Land District, which also embraced a vast territory.  The town of Dallas was not organized until 1856.

Last Indian Outbreak.
     The last trouble with the Indians in this part of the country was in 1869, when the people of Weatherford and Decatur fled from their homes, some of them coming to Dallas.  The Indians were defected by the Rangers and settlers, and the three chiefs, Lone Wolf, Santana and Big Tree, were captured.  On promising that they would make their tribes, the Comanches and Kiowas, behave themselves, the chiefs were released.  But, it was only a short time before they were again stealing cattle and horses and terrorizing settlers.  The chiefs were again captured and arraigned before the District Court of Parker County on charges of murder.  They were convicted and sentenced to serve terms in the penitentiary.  The Rangers who took the prisoners to the penitentiary, stopped over in Dallas and exhibited them on the streets.  Many men still living, remember seeing the distinguished convicts, who, they say, looked like [kings].  One of the chiefs committed suicide, and the other two, died of grief.

- January 16, 1921, The Dallas Morning News, p. 12, col. 1.
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