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J. H. Yeargan
Relates Early
Dallas History


In 1854 He Lived in Log
Cabin With Indians
as Neighbors.


Tells of 1860 Fire

Land Was Cheap in Days
When Farms Covered
Present City.


     "My 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 1855.
     "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 there.

Richardson Progresses.
     "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.
     "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 soldier.
     "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."

- July 25, 1926, The Dallas Morning News,
Section III, p. 3.
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