A Colorful Past: Bright Beginnings: Dallas/ Fort Worth


Dallas Newcomer and Relocation guide 2013 winterA Colorful Past: Bright Beginnings:

Dallas has been impressing newcomers ever since early travelers first encountered its fertile soil and open ranges. John Neely Bryan, a Tennessee lawyer who passed through the area in 1839, decided that a low bluff overlooking a narrow ford across the Trinity River—which was difficult to navigate, but its water proved sweeter for drinking than that of either the Red River or the Brazos—would be an excellent site for a trading post. The ford, at the intersection of two major Native American traces and three river forks, provided the only easy crossing point for miles.

By the time Bryan returned in 1841, most of the early inhabitants—Native American tribes—had been forced out of the area by a treaty. Because of this, Bryan declared the trading post was no longer feasible, and established a permanent settlement in its stead. Bryan attracted families from nearby Bird’s Fort and the Peters Colony as well as many Europeans from the failed La Reunion settlement. Two cabins, a ferry, and an entrepreneur’s dream soon developed into a burgeoning city.

In the following years, the settlement steadily grew and in 1846, Dallas County was created by the new State of Texas. In 1850 Dallas became the permanent county seat and boasted a population of 2,743. Dallas proper had 430 residents, a mercantile store, a tavern, a newspaper, and a post office. The railroad arrived in 1872, bringing with it more residents and commerce, and by 1900, the U.S. Census recorded 42,639 residents in Dallas—making it the third largest city in the state at the time, behind San Antonio and Houston. Two years later, an interurban rail line opened between Dallas and Fort Worth: the birth of the metroplex as we know today.

The next 30 years continued the healthy growth pattern; the area became home to Neiman Marcus in 1907, forever leaving its mark on the retail world. Things began rolling right along in Dallas: J.S. Armstrong developed Highland Park, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1909, and Southern Methodist University was established by 1915. Local bank assets in the area were doubled with the U.S. Government established a Federal Reserve Bank, garnering national exposure for Dallas. 


Dallas Newcomer and Relocation Guide

Winter 2013

Volume 69



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