To our readers,

Summer is heating up and we are ramping up, setting new deadlines to push book four—CLON-X —closer to a fall release. It’s taken time to reboot from the delays caused by the two-year pandemic, but we’re back on track and working hard.

Also on our agenda is the complete redesign of our current website: patkrapf.com. That said, this will be our last blog post as we take a summer hiatus to knock out CLON-X. We will return to our blog in the fall with new articles. Until then, have a fun summer!

Darcy, Bullet, and Pat

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Texas: Dallas

It was brought to my attention that some readers couldn’t open a hyperlink I included in last month’s post, so I am posting the article for those who are interested in knowing how did Dallas get its name?

It’s a bit of a mystery, actually. Who exactly is Dallas named after? Well, it turns out it’s not a simple answer.

The downtown skyline and Margaret McDermott Bridge

The downtown skyline and Margaret McDermott Bridge(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

By Claire Z. Cardona

The city was named by founder John Neely Bryan, but where the name “Dallas” came from is a bit of a mystery.(City of Dallas Municipal Archives)

That got us thinking: Who exactly is Dallas named after?  But as it turns out, the answer isn’t all that straight-forward.

“It’s fascinating,” said City Archivist John H. Slate. “It’s the great riddle that everyone would like to solve.”

Dallas founder John Neely Bryan, a trader and lawyer among other things, first visited Dallas in 1839 and returned a couple of years later to settle on the east bank of the Trinity River.

By the time he had died in 1877 at the State Lunatic Asylum, he had dubbed the city Dallas but left no concrete explanation for why he chose the name, according to the city of Dallas website, which details some of the possible origins.

Frank M. Cockrell, a pioneer who knew Bryan, recalled him saying “the town was named for my friend Dallas,” the city’s site says. But which friend?

Cockrell guessed that it was George Mifflin Dallas, the U.S. vice president during the James Polk administration. But that Dallas is the man Dallas County is thought to be named for.

There’s no evidence that Bryan knew George Dallas, who had no real connection to Texas, and the name of the city predates the county by a few years (Dallas and Polk counties were created the same day in 1846), the city says.

Other possible contenders: George Dallas’ brother Commodore Alexander James Dallas, a naval commander stationed in the Gulf of Mexico. Then there’s Walter R. Dallas, who fought at San Jacinto, or even his brother, Texas Ranger James. L. Dallas.

Another guess is Joseph Dallas, an Arkansas man who lived in a county adjacent to one Bryan lived in. That one seems like a bit of a stretch.

“Bottom line is no one really knows,” Slate said. “There’s quite a bit of speculation but none of it is borne out by any actual provable facts. This is probably one of the biggest conundrums in the city — no one really knows why it’s called Dallas.”

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Texas: The BAD

I had visited Dallas on many occasions after moving to Texas to dine, shop, or attend art shows at the DMA—Dallas Museum of Art. But I had never been to the BAD, and quite frankly I had no idea what the acronym stood for, until my brother, a recent transplant to Dallas, said he would meet me for Sunday brunch in the BAD. 

Only after I plugged the address for Hattie’s restaurant into my map app did I realize that the BAD—Bishop Arts District—was located in the heart of North Oak Cliff, an area I did know to some degree, as I had been patronizing a local grooming shop on West Davis Street for a few years. 

This is what you miss when you go from point A to point B and never bother to explore your surroundings. If I had continued down Davis toward Beckley I may’ve stumbled upon this quaint hidden-gem with its indie shops, eclectic restaurants, and colorful street art. When I arrived in the BAD my reaction, like many other new visitors, was “I had no idea this kind of place existed in Dallas.” 

But the Bishop Arts District, simply North Oak Cliff to the locals, has been there for more than a hundred years, and is the largest trolley-era shopping district dating back to the arrival of the streetcar line in 1904. The historic buildings grew up around the trolley stop and have managed to survive demolition as Dallas developed and freeways were constructed north and east of the unique community. For me, it was love at first sight, and it soon became a new go-to spot for eating, shopping, and hanging with friends, especially when our giant schnauzer group received an exuberant welcome from the outdoor cafe owners. 

After these K-9 gatherings, to take the energy edge off my wired female Shotz, I routinely walked the streets of the BAD, drinking in its casual vibe. Slowly, I branched out into other neighborhoods of Oak Cliff. On one of these jaunts I found myself in the Tenth Street Historic District Freedman’s Town—a treasure threatened by demolition. Although I love modern architecture, I have a deep appreciation for the old and feel it should be preserved for its history.  

Speaking of history, one of the first settlers in Oak Cliff was William Henry Hord who had come west to “assist with Native American issues.” He was granted 640 acres to farm and set about building his homestead. 

In 1886, developer Thomas L. Marsalis landed in the Dallas area. He purchased hundreds of acres including most of Hord’s 640-acre farm—Hord Ridge—with the intention of realizing his dream to create a settlement in the area. 

Partnering with John Armstrong, another enterprising developer, the two planned to market “this cozy farming settlement” as a prestigious residential community. They advertised it as the “Cambridge of the South,” and the settlement flourished. Marsalis changed the name from Hord Ridge to Oak Cliff, supposedly for the stately green oaks on the cliffs (the bluffs) that overlooked the Trinity River.

In time, disagreements between Marsalis and Armstrong soured their partnership, with Marsalis staying in Oak Cliff and Armstrong going on to develop a community north of the Trinity—Highland Park. 

In 1893, due to a financial downturn, the money-strapped Oak Cliff voted to annex itself to the City of Dallas. So Oak Cliff and Dallas are now one? Not really, for the Trinity River physically separates this quaint southern suburb from the rest of Dallas, and today the area has retained much of its identity as a separate community within Dallas. 

Before we leave, you may wonder how Dallas got its name. This is probably one of the biggest conundrums in the city— no one really knows why it’s called “Dallas.” 

Side Note: I am sorry to say that Hattie’s in Oak Cliff has closed.

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