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Ferry Turned
To Toll Bridge
At Low Water


Charge to Cross Trinity
Was Same Under Either Plan.


How City Started

French Town Residents Didn't like
Long Trip to Distillery.


     "In 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 a settlement.

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.
     "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."

- December 23, 1928, The Dallas Morning News, p. 13.
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