J. H. Yeargan
In 1854 He Lived
Cabin With Indians
Tells of 1860 Fire
Land Was Cheap in
When Farms Covered
BY W. S. ADAIR
father, N. A. Yeargan, moved from Tennessee to Texas in 1854[?],
arriving in Dallas County on Oct.[?] 15 [?]," said John
H. Yeargan, __21 Cedar Springs Road. "He came in wagons,
of course, there being, at that time, no other way to travel.
He was accompanied by mother and five children, and brought
some negro slaves and horses and mules. After looking over
the country here, and making inquiry about the West, he went
on to Johnson County (he had got such a start toward the wild,
that, no doubt, he was unable to slow up suddenly), at least,
I can not otherwise explain why he should have wanted[?] to go
farther than Dallas. He settled some distance west of Cleburne.
He found the Comanches still roaming that region, stealing[?]
off with horses and cattle, and now and then, murdering women
and children. Mother, who lived in mortal dread of the
Indians, declined to stay in such a country. The upshot
of it was that the family returned to Dallas County in early
"We moved into a double log
cabin on a farm, which we rented from Jack Cole. The house
was near the present site of the Milam School Building, at McKinney
and Fitzhugh avenues, three miles from the village of Dallas.
The space between our house and town was covered with oak
and cedar trees; beyond us, the open prairie, extending to a
half-circle horizon, was animated by munching and browsing cattle
and horses, and deer and innumerable turkeys and prairie chickens.
Our nearest neighbor was my uncle, Billie Edmonson[?],
three miles southeast of us, where he had settled in 1852. Near
him, lived Tom Lucas, a still earlier settler. When we
went to town or to mill, we went to Cedar Springs, in preference
to Dallas, as being the better town.
Still Run at Mill.
"I am unable, at this distance
of time, to say just what was at Cedar Springs, further than
that there were the postoffice, a store or two, a blacksmith
shop, a shoeshop, a grist mill and a cooper shop, where barrels
were made to hold the whisky made at the still, run in connection
with the mill. Cedar Springs was at the springs from which
it took its name, on the Cedar Springs Road, about 300 yards
beyond the Cotton Belt Railroad crossing of that road, and on
the right, as you go from the city.
"But, Cedar Springs went down
after the county seat contest ended in victory for Dallas. The
towns in the county at that time were Lancaster, the most important
of them; Lisbon, perhaps next; Dallas, Cedar Springs and Breckenridge.
The candidates for the county seat were Dallas, Cedar Springs
and Hord's Ridge. But, Hord's Ridge was not a town; it
had nothing to offer, except what was considered a superior town
site than Dallas or Cedar Springs occupied. As a nucleus
for the proposed town, there was nothing but Judge W. H. Hord's
dwelling, part of which, may still be seen in the shape of a
small dilapidated shack, down the hill to the right, as you go
from the street car to the zoo. It was on the Lancaster
road. I never knew why Lancaster, Lisbon and Breckenridge
did not enter the contest for the county seat. Breckenridge
was named by Kentucky settlers in that locality for John C. Breckenridge.
It had a postoffice, and was on the regular stage line
between Dallas and McKinney, a short distance west of the present
town of Richardson, and I think the stage drivers relayed teams
"When the Houston & Texas
Central Railroad passed Breckenridge up and made the station
of Richardson in 1872, the postoffice was moved to Richardson,
and such business establishments as Breckenridge had followed
it, and Breckenridge gradually faded from the map. In a
short time, the old hotel or boarding-house, a two-story frame
structure, was all that was left to mark the site of the town.
This building defied the ravages of time and weather up
to two or three years ago, when the owner of the land it was
on, pulled it down, perhaps not so much because he wanted the
lumber in it for other purposes, as because he wished to get
rid of an eyesore.
"Dallas was incorporated in
1856. Dr. Samuel B. Pryor and two others, whose names I
can not recall, ran for the office of Mayor. Dr. Pryor,
who received fifty-seven votes, was elected. Andy Moore,
who, without opposition, was elected Town Marshal, received ninety-five
votes. If we assume, as we may reasonably do, that Moore
received all the votes cast, we may infer two things: that Dr.
Pryor got more votes than both his opponents combined, and that
the population within the corporate limits did not exceed 500.
In 1856, father bought a tract of 220 acres from George
Granbury, through which, Maple avenue road now runs. He
paid $6 an acre for it, and to raise the money, he sold a negro
man for $1,000, and a negro woman for $800. He sold the
woman to the grandfather of Ben F. Brandenburg, former Sheriff.
Mr. Brandenburg's farm is now part of Oak Lawn. Col.
George Record owned the farm adjoining him. He sold it
some time in the '60s to Dave Long. Long had come from
Tennessee and gone to work for Mr. Record as a farm hand two
years earlier. Mr. Record moved to a farm in the timber.
His house was near the Grauwyler bridge, across the river,
on the Irving road, and there resided until he died. He
was the father of the late Joe W. Record, and the grandfather
of James Record.
Dallas Once Farms.
Our farm adjoined the farm of Obediah
Knight, an early settler, and father of Epps G. and R. E. L.
Knight. Our next neighbor on the north was George West.
His land ran early up to the S. M. U. property and has
been subdivided into what is known as Highland Park West addition.
John Fields bought the addition in about 1865.
Calvin Cole owned a large body
of land, part of which, is now embraced in Oak Lawn. His
dwelling was on Turtle Creek, near the present home of Col. J.
T. Trezevant. James Cole's farm, which came next, extended
to Exall's Lake. Mart and Jack Cole lived between the Exall
Lake and town. Jack Cole's home was where the Cole Park
now is. Joe Cole, the youngest of the Cole brothers, is
still living. His home is at Masten and San Jacinto streets.
"With all the rest of the
people in the surrounding country, I saw the smoke that went
up when Dallas was burned, about noon, on a Sunday, in July,
1860. I did not join the rush for the scene of the fire,
but for what reason, I do not now know. But, I saw the
ashes and charred remains of buildings [the] next day. My
recollection is that the only buildings left were on the south
side of the courthouse, though, I am not sure. In fact,
I would not go on record as making any positive statements about
the fire. I know, in a general way, that the negro slaves
were accused of starting the blaze, and that three of them, who
were supposed to have taken the leading part, were hastily tried,
convicted and hanged.
War Times Described.
- July 25, 1926, The
Dallas Morning News,
"The able-bodied men all went
to the war in 1861, leaving the women, children and old men behind.
Much has been said about the hardships the people underwent
during the war. It is a fact that all supplies from without
were cut off, but with the exception of sugar, coffee, salt and
a few other things, the people of the frontier were not much
beholden to the outside, even in times of peace. There
was plenty of meat and game, the women made most of the clothing
at all times. As I look back on it, I am inclined to believe
that our vague fears as to what was going on at the front troubled
us much more, than any lack of the things necessary to life.
I know that nobody went hungry. If my recollection
serves me, I had more trouble getting what I wanted during the
recent World War, than I had during the Civil War. During
the Civil War, boys were put in training to be ready to go to
the front when they were 18 years old. I was getting ready,
and lacked only a few months of rounding out my eighteenth year,
when General Lee surrendered. I had been sworn in as a
"I bought a tract of one and
one-eighth acres on Cedar Springs Road, in 1874, for $250. I
built on it in 1880, and have lived there ever since."
Section III, p. 3.
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