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Beer Had Hard
Row to Hoe in
Early Dallas


Came in With Railroads,
But Whisky Had Inside
Track on It.


Old Farming Days

George P. Jackson Tells
of Early Settlers in
Old-Time Texas.


     "Early in the '70s, the railroads, land companies and land agents, began to advertise North and West Texas, broadcasting their pamphlets and maps over the old States, north and south," said George P. Jackson, of 4517 Cabell Drive.   "These boosters, in most instances, exaggerated the importance of the towns, but fell far short of telling half the facts in regard to the value of the lands.  Towns that were hardly to be found on the official maps made a brave showing in these publicity booklets, being represented as the advertisers hoped they one day might be, rather than as they actually were.  But, as the towns since have grown beyond the wildest dreams of the pioneer boomers, no great harm resulted from the enterprise of those visionaries.
     "Some of this literature got as far as Fulton County, Illinois, where we were, at the time, toiling and moiling, early and late, to make a living on a reluctant farm.  My father, Moses J. Jackson, being a farmer, was not interested in towns.  He was attracted by what the literature said of the lands of Dallas and Kaufman Counties.  He read the booklets every night and every Sunday, and took them to the field with him to read during his intervals of rest on week days.  Dallas was the big town of Dallas County, and Lawrence, of Kaufman County.  By the time father got his crop laid by, he was ready to set out for Texas.  He arrived here late in the summer of 1875, and looked Dallas and Lawrence over, but was not impressed with either.
     "Fortunately, however, he was interested in towns merely as markets.  As for the land, he soon realized that the fertility of it had not been exaggerated.  He purchased a tract at $10 an acre between Dallas and Oakland Cemetery, which was then some miles from the village of Dallas, and a larger tract near Lawrence in Kaufman County.  Returning to Illinois, he began to wind up his affairs, preparatory to moving to Texas.  We were two days and a night on the way from St. Louis to Dallas, and landed here on Christmas Eve, 1875.
     "Dallas was a hard-looking town, claiming a population of 3,500, and actually having 1,500 or 1,800.  The courthouse square was the business center.  The courthouse was a two or three-story stone structure, in the midst of a grove of locust and chinaberry trees, which served to shade a series of hitching racks.  The streets were jammed with wagons, and the people seemed prosperous.

Lawrence on a Boom.
     "We spent Christmas in Dallas, and then proceeded to our farm near Lawrence, where we settled.  While Lawrence was not the city the boomers had represented it to be, it was a bustling village of 700 or 800, and had a flourishing trade.  New people were landing at Lawrence at the rate of about 100 a day, and at Dallas, at the rate of perhaps 200 or 300 a day.  But most of them, finding nothing to do, moved on, and eventually got a foothold somewhere else in the State, and almost without exception, found in the end, that they had done well to come to Texas.
     "In those days, the drawback to farming was lack of rain, and to the towns' lack of wholesome drinking water.  Dallas had to put up with the water of the Trinity River, or the water from shallow wells, which was little better than the river water.  All the water in the neighborhood of Lawrence was charged to saturation with salt or sulphur, or both.  It was not fit to drink, nor could the women cook or wash with it.  Until they could construct cisterns, the people of Lawrence had to depend on Landrey's Lake, four miles away, and it cost them 50¢ a barrel to get water from there.  Imagine the people of Dallas and Lawrence drinking such water as they had, particularly in the summer!  As for ice, it had not come into general use in Texas, even in the saloons.  People even drank beer without ice.  Beer made its appearance in North Texas with the coming of the railroads, and at first, was not much in demand.  Whisky had so long been the regulation drink, that beer was slow in coming into favor.
     "In 1876, Lawrence had twice the population of Terrell, four miles away.  But, Terrell had two things Lawrence lacked -- good water and a brick business house.  Jack Webb was the builder and owner of the brick house.  The people of Lawrence began to resort to the brickmakers and to construct cisterns, but Terrell somehow got the lead, and has held it ever since.

Kills His First Deer.
     "We settled on our farm and took no interest in the ups and downs of the towns.  We hauled our cotton to Dallas, and here bought our supplies.  The route we traversed could not be called a road.  It was in such condition when it rained, that a team could not draw an empty wagon over it.  Even in good weather, we usually hitched four or five yokes of oxen to a wagon, and were five or six days making the round trip from Lawrence to Dallas.  We came to Dallas two or three times a year.
     "I liked Texas from the day I set foot in it, for there was plenty of game.  I killed my first deer at Landrey's Lake, Jan. 1, 1876, using an old single-barreled pot-metal pistol.  The deer was coming to the lake to drink.  The wind was blowing in the wrong direction for it to scent me, and it came within a few yards of me, and even turned its side to me.  I fired, and had the luck to shoot it through the heart -- I say luck, because I was not a marksman, nor did the pistol shoot straight. I threw the carcass over my shoulder and started to carry it to Lawrence.  On the way, I overtook Bill Waldrup, who was hauling a load of wood to town, and he gave me a lift.  He didn't seem to think much of my exploit -- nor did anyone else.  Killing a deer was nothing to those people.
     "The country east of the Trinity was still open range when we settled at Lawrence, but the railroads were bringing in settlers in such numbers, that the cattlemen were beginning to move their herds west, in order to make room for the man with the hoe.
     "In the spring of 1876, I went to work as a cowboy for Frank Houston of Rockwall County.  He was rounding up his cattle and moving them to points west of the Brazos River, where the grass was tall enough to hide a cow.  The sheepmen began to invade the West about the same time.  Cattlemen objected to the presence of sheep on the range, because cattle will not eat grass that has once been nibbled over by sheep.  But, as the sheepmen had as much right on the range as the cattlemen, the latter could not help themselves. Things come, however, when they are badly wanted on the spur of necessity, and about that time, barbed wire for fencing came on the market.  The big cattlemen bought public lands in contiguous sections and fenced them to keep the sheepmen off the grass.  This was resented by the small cattlemen, who were without sufficient capital to purchase and fence large bodies of land.  Then, the fence-cutters appeared on the scene, and the fence-cutters war, which lasted several years.

Ran Cattle Seven Years.
     "I ran cattle seven years, working all the way to the Rio Grande and making two trips over the Chisholm Trail, in 1877 and 1878.  With about 5,000 cattle in the herd, we started North in the spring, when the grass had reached a growth to support them, and moved through Texas and Oklahoma into Kansas at the rate of eight or ten miles a day, the cattle fattening as we went.  It usually took ninety days to make the trip.  Twenty cowboys were considered enough to handle a drove of 5,000 cattle and to protect it from Indians.  We saw hundreds of Indians, but never had any trouble with them.
     "Buffalo were to be seen by the thousand in Oklahoma and the Panhandle of Texas.  The war on them began in Iowa and Nebraska back in the '60s, and they had retired, before the hunters, to Western Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  We killed a young buffalo, whenever we wished a change from beef.  I have heard it said that the buffalo continued their course south, through Texas, Mexico and Central America, and are now flourishing somewhere in the wilds of South America, but it is a matter I know nothing about.  The last herd of buffalo I saw was just east of Amarillo.  There were about 5,000 in the bunch, and they were cleaning up all vegetation they found in their path, passing up, nothing but the thorny cactus, and packing the ground so hard, that the trail they left could be followed for years afterward.
     "The life of a cowboy is a hard life, but there is something so fascinating about it, that nothing short of the failure of the business itself, could ever induce a cowboy to try something else.
     "I came to Dallas in 1882, and have been here ever since.  I have seen lots in the business district increase in value from $100 to $100,000, skyscrapers take the place of shacks, and a four-page newspaper grow to the bulk of the Sunday edition of The Dallas News, which is a heavy wheelbarrow load."

- February 5, 1928, The Dallas Morning News,
Editorial & Amusements Section, p. 7, col. 1.
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