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D in the Heart of Texas             

Jerry T. Dealey

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John Neely Bryan – And Other Early Founders (Part 1)

Early History of Texas
The Europeans and American Settlers
John Neely Bryan – And Other Early Founders
Some Wheeling-Dealing to Grow a City
George Bannerman Dealey
The Dallas Morning News is Born
The Great 1908 Flood
G. B. Promotes Other Early Dallas Growth
The "City of Hate"
Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza
The Other Buildings Around Dealey Plaza
The Elder G. B. Dealey
The Dallas "Citizens Council"
The ‘Right Wing’ Direction of Dallas - "City of Hate" Revisited
A ‘Turn-Around’ for the Dallas Morning News
The Pre-November ‘Hate’ Incidents
Dallas’ Law Enforcement
November 1963, Why Dallas?
Dealey Plaza Changes To-Date

It was into this environment, of the Republic of Texas inviting settlers to establish settlements that the 30 year-old John Neely Bryan came. Bryan had been born and grew up in Fayetteville, Tennessee. He had studied law in Memphis, passed the bar and went to Nashville to practice. He had contracted cholera in the epidemic of 1833, and was told to move west. So he had moved to Arkansas, where it is rumored (and still debated) that he helped establish the township of Van Buren (named after Martin Van Buren, Vice President under Andrew Jackson, who would later succeed Jackson as President).
Bryan had scouted the area in 1839 and had decided to return. In November of 1841, one month before his 31st birthday, Bryan, accompanied by a Cherokee named Ned, a dog named Tubby and a horse called Neshoba, returned to the Three Forks area to stay. He came down from Coffee’s Station, a camp on the Red River, using the Republic of Texas approved route (Preston Road), which connected Austin to the Red River. He reached an 18-foot bluff overlooking the Trinity River. The edge of the river at that time flowed just west of the bluff where the Triple Underpass is today, in the flat area just west of Dealey Plaza. His first dugout was where Main St. starts under the Triple Underpass today (of course, the ground was then level with the railroad tracks and Grassy Knoll that are there today).

Since the Trinity River ran all the way south to the Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, was a major river, and clearly marked on the maps, Bryan assumed the river could become navigable so that commerce and trade could be established once the area became populated enough.

So he built a lean-to of poles, brush and dirt to establish his claim of land at that point. The first camp, which started the town, was within the boundaries of what would become Dealey Plaza. This would remain the site of Bryan’s cabins and homes within Dallas.

There is much debate over how the name of “Dallas” came to be. Many hold that it was named after James K. Polk’s Vice President, George Mifflin Dallas, who took office in 1844 on a pro-Texas annexation platform; however, the town of Dallas was named well before 1844 and it is doubtful that Bryan knew the aristocratic Philadelphian (the County of Dallas WAS named after him in 1846). Some say that is was after George Mifflin Dallas’ brother, Commodore Alexander James Dallas, who was stationed in the Gulf of Mexico, and was the U. S. Treasury Secretary around the end of the War of 1812. Another story is that in 1842 Bryan had a town-naming contest, and the winner, the wife of Captain Mabel Gilbert (of Bird’s Fort) won a lot at the northeast corner of Houston and Commerce Streets (where the ‘Old Red’ Courthouse stands today.... which means the story is unlikely). However, Bryan’s son later stated that his father had said he had named it “after my friend Dallas”, but Bryan left no diary or journals stating who this friend was. However it was named, when Sam Houston and other representatives of the Republic of Texas came through “Dallas” in August of 1843, Dallas was what the 3 families he found there were already calling their ‘town’.

IE150-1.GIF - 1880 Bytes D in the Heart of Texas - Table of Contents
03LEFT.JPG - 1880 BytesThe Europeans and American Settlers (Part 2)
03RIGHT.JPG - 1880 BytesJohn Neely Bryan – And Other Early Founders (Part 2)

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Last edited June 3, 2003