EARLIEST DAYS IN
VISIT OF "SENIOR
CALLS TO MIND HISTORY OF
By W. S. ADAIR
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
First Court Convenes.
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
Last Indian Outbreak.
- January 16, 1921,
The Dallas Morning News, p. 12, col. 1.
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.
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