To Toll Bridge
At Low Water
Charge to Cross
Was Same Under Either Plan.
How City Started
French Town Residents
Long Trip to Distillery.
BY W. S. ADAIR
the early '50s, there were two settlements in the territory now
embraced in the corporate limits of Dallas," said T. R.
Yeargan, of 317 Montreal street. "They were Dallas
and Cedar Springs. There were perhaps 200 persons, counting
men, women and children, in Dallas, and, I judge, not quite so
many at Cedar Springs. But, Cedar Springs had a few more
stores than Dallas and other things of importance that Dallas
did not have -- a corn and flour mill and a distillery. Every
one in the country, round about, had to go to Cedar Springs for
meal, flour and whisky. The road between Cedar Springs
and Reunion, the French settlement, near the present site of
Cement City, traversed two bottoms above Dallas. Often,
a great part of this road was under water or impassably muddy,
making it necessary for the French to execute a long detour,
by way of Dallas, in order to get to and from the mill.
"In time, the people of Reunion,
or French Town, as we called it, grew weary of spending so much
time on the road, and they laid a proposition before Dallas and
Cedar Springs, which was, that if the owners would move their
mill to Dallas, they, on their part, would cease to put up any
more buildings at French Town, and, as soon as they conveniently,
and without loss, could do so, would move to Dallas, and make
common cause with the enterprising men of Dallas and Cedar Springs
in building up a town here. The proposition was accepted,
and, keeping their word, the French did no more building at Reunion,
which began to wane as the inhabitants crossed the river and
were swallowed up by Dallas, and in a few years, vanished as
Last Raid of Indians.
"Thus, while Dallas is in
no sense, as the words are ordinarily understood, a river town,
it does owe its first boom to the fact that it is situated at
the best crossing of the Trinity for some miles, either up or
down the stream.
"We came to Texas from Tennessee
in 1854. Our family consisted of father, N. A. Yeargan;
my mother, my brothers, John and Powell; my sister, Jennie, and
myself. We reached Dallas in October. Dallas was
just a few log cabins facing the courthouse. I am not clear
about the courthouse, but when I try to conjure up a mental picture
of it, I see a small log structure, not exactly in the center
of the square, but toward the northeast corner of the lot. We
remained when we moved to Johnson County. Father got the
title to a considerable body of land at a bargain, some miles
west of where Cleburne now stands. We knew from the first,
that the Indians still were raiding out that way, and, therefore,
were neither surprised, nor disturbed, when, from time to time,
we heard of their forays in the distance. But, they kept
getting nearer, and when they began to operate in our immediate
neighborhood, father deemed it high time to sound a retreat.
He was a pioneer, all right, but not to the extent of exposing
his family to the tomahawk and scalping knife.
"On our return to Dallas,
father purchased a farm just this side of Love Field, and that
became our home for many years. The Indians made one raid
into Dallas County after we came. One night, in the light
of the moon, they rounded up a bunch of horses at Grand Prairie
and headed for the north with them. The settlers here,
by some means of transmission, which I have forgotten, got word
to the people at Decatur, who intercepted the savages, killed
a lot of them and recovered the string of horses. My father,
my brother, John, and sister, Jennie, who had started to Wise
County, were in camp for the night, north of Denton, when they
heard the Indians with the stolen horses, pass near them and
could see them indistinctly.
"Mrs. Nancy Cochran, mother
of the late John H. Cochran and widow of William M. Cochran,
who were among the earliest settlers in the county, often told
us of her experience with Indians at Farmers Branch. One
morning, when she was alone in the cabin, she saw Indians prowling
near. She slipped out, hid in the brush, watched the Indians
enter the cabin and saw them go away. Coming out of hiding
when the Indians had cleared out, she was surprised to find that
they had contented themselves with eating what food they could
put their hands on and had stolen nothing. The same day
the Indians visited Mrs. Cochran, a bunch of buffaloes passed
near her cabin on their way to the river. With a rifle,
she shot from her cabin window, one of the fat heifers, skinned
and dressed the carcass, and had some of the steak cooked to
set before the men when they came in the evening.
Buffalo Head West.
"The buffaloes never ranged
east of the Trinity River after we came. They had retired
as far as Denton and Wise Counties, though a few stragglers from
time to time made their appearance on Grand Prairie. There
were still herds of deer, and turkeys were so thick you could
not count them. I often saw 100 or more of them perched
on our garden fence at Love Field. They roosted in the
cottonwood trees, 300 or 400 yards from our house, where, toward
evening, we could see them gathering by the thousand.
"There were not many horses
or cattle in the country when we came; the range had not then
been stocked. There were wild horses and wild cattle farther
west, even before white men began to make settlements in the
State, and they, no doubt, would have spread over North and Northeast
Texas, but had not had time to do so. Here, the settler
had to import the nucleus of his herd of cattle, or of horses,
and he was slower in getting a start than the settler in the
more-favored regions, who could begin wholesale by the sample
process of clapping his branding iron to as many wild cattle
as he could reach. The big herds of cattle that passed
through Dallas on their way to the Northern pastures and markets
originated in the South and Southwest. Dallas was on what
was known as the Old Preston Trail, which had been a military
road when Texas belonged to Mexico.
Dallas Destroyed by Fire.
- December 23, 1928,
The Dallas Morning News, p. 13.
"I was here when the town
was destroyed by fire in 1860. I did not see the conflagration,
and I have no theory concerning it. Possibly, the fire was started
by negro slaves, but I can offer no proof, for or against, that
view of it. All I know, is that the blaze made a pretty
clean sweep of the cabins and shacks that composed the architecture
of the original village. I am certain that John Neely Bryan's
cabin came through unscathed, for that cabin is still in a very
fair state of preservation, in store at the Buckner Orphans'
Home. My testimony is worth nothing, touching the courthouse.
I must have known whether it was burned, for I often looked
on the wrecked village, but I have heard so many conflicting
stories in late years about that fire, that the chatter has confused
my memory. From all accounts, however, the original courthouse
was made of logs, and the fact that a four-room brick courthouse
took its place early in the sixties, would seem to indicate that
something had happened to the log house. Tom and Bill Flynn
were the pioneer brick manufacturers here, and it is highly probable
that they built this first brick courthouse.
"With the possible exception
of Jacob Nussbaumer's meat market, which was on Main street,
all the business houses of the town were confined to the courthouse
square until 1872. W. L. Murphy, pioneer merchant, owned
the west half of the Sanger block and had his dwelling on it,
while A. Gouffe owned and lived on the east half. Mr. Gouffe,
who was a tailor, gave a suit of clothes, valued at $65, in exchange
for his half of the block, and many years later, sold it to Sanger
Bros. for $100,000. There was a dwelling on The News block,
with a garden and orchard around it, but who owned the block
and occupied the house, I fail to recollect.
"In 1872, the E. K. Kahn block
sold for $850, and was platted for business lots. As thus
platted, it sold the same year for $2,500. M. D. Garlington
bought the lot at Elm and Lamar streets, and on it, erected a
building for his wholesale grocery. Col. John C. McCoy
had the block on the south side of Commerce street, east of Lamar,
for his residence lot; Judge Hurford, the St. George Hotel block,
and Jack Smith, the block on the north side of Main street, opposite
Judge Burford's place.
"The residence section of
the town was originally south of the courthouse, but after 1872,
the section north of Camp street and Ross avenue took the lead. In
1868, I hauled lumber on an ox wagon from Gilmer to build dwellings
for John Bryan and W. J. Clark on North Lamar street, between
Camp Street and Ross avenue, both handsome two-story structures.
About the same time, W. H. Prather built a two-story dwelling
at Ross avenue and Camp street.
"From a very early day, Alex
Cockrell was the ferryman across the river at Dallas. There
was more water in the river in those days than there now is,
but the stream often got so slender in midsummer that Cockrell's
boat reached from bank to bank. When that condition of
things came about, the ferryman changed his tactics and converted
his craft into a toll bridge. But, the stage of the stream
made no odds to those who wanted to be set across, for whether
they paid tolls or fares, rode the boat or walked the bridge,
the price of the passage was two bits."
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