A Guide to the History of Dallas, Texas

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Timelines of Events in Dallas History: 1840s


Prob. Spring: John Neeley Bryan explores the "Three Forks" region of North Texas. At this time, Texas is an independent republic.


Feb. 4: Government of the Republic of Texas authorizes establishment of Peters Colony in North Texas, an area that includes future site of Dallas.

November: Bryan returns to Three Forks region and establishes a camp on a bluff overlooking the Trinity River (the site of today's Dealey Plaza).


January: Bryan rides to Bird's Fort (in Tarrant County) to persuade colonists there to join him in what would become Dallas County.

March: Capt. Mabel Gilbert and his wife Charity arrive from Bird's Fort.

April: The Gilberts are followed by the family of John Beeman, which includes Bryan's future wife Margaret. The Beemans settle on White Rock Creek.

Oct. 1: Earliest written reference to "town of Dallas," in a Power of Attorney to William Cook (in Houston County records).


n.d.: Bird's Fort Treaty with Indians signed.

June: John Neely Bryan and father-in-law John Beeman set fire to log rafts on Trinity River in hopes of clearing it for navigation.

July 14: While traveling with Texas President Sam Houston to Grapevine Springs, to make a treaty with Indians, Englishman Edward Parkinson records his visit to Bryan, at Dallas, in his diary.


n.d.: With the help of both J. P. Dumas and Coho Smith (apparently on two separate occasions), John Neely Bryan surveys and lays-out lots in the town of Dallas.

n.d.: John Neely Bryan builds a new cabin to replace the first one, which has been damaged in a flood.

n.d.: The government of the Republic of Texas builds National Central Highway, which passes through Dallas.

Aug. 26: Bryan's wife Margaret gives birth to first child, a son, Holland Coffee Bryan (but child dies in infancy).


Fall: Texas voters approve proposal that Texas join the United States. In Dallas, the vote is 29 to 3 in favor of annexation.

Dec. 29: Texas admitted to the Union.


n.d.: Jack Smith and J. M. Patterson open first retail store in Dallas.

n.d.: Webb's Chapel, first church in the Dallas County, is built.

n.d.: Preston Witt and other Dallas County settlers pursue Indian raiders into a neighboring county, culminating in what has become known as the "Grand Prairie Fight."

Spring: Last wild buffalo in Dallas County killed.

March 30: An act of new Texas state legislature creates Dallas County; Dallas made temporary county seat.

May 12: An act of Texas legislature appoints Bryan commissioner of elections.

May 13: The United States declares war on Mexico.

June: A company of volunteers from Dallas and neighboring counties is mustered into federal service in Austin. After being sent to San Antonio, they participate in an abortive invasion of Mexico led by Col. Wm. S. Harney. Two Dallas men are killed in the raid.

July 13: First county election held in Dallas.

Oct. 7: In first deed recorded in Dallas County, Bryan and wife sell two lots to brother-in-law Henry Harter.

Oct. 13: Bryan and William Baker apply for a license to operate a ferry across the Trinity River.


June: A second company of Dallas Volunteers, led by Capt. Preston Witt, mustered into federal service under Colonel Jack Hays and sent to Mexico.


n.d.: Josiah Phelps and two other surveyors killed by Indians.

n.d.: Witt's company participates in skirmishes against Mexican guerillas in highlands near Mexico City.

Feb. 2: Mexican War comes to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.


December: The Cedar Snag, Dallas' first newspaper, is published by J. W. Latimer. It is afterward re-named The Dallas Herald.

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