by Paula Bosse
DALLAS STEAM MILLS, at The Cedar Spring, Dallas Co.
These Mills are situate at the main Cedar Springs, 2 1/2 miles North from Dallas, and are now in successful operation, and will be able to furnish Flour in quantities to suit purchasers on short notice, corn ground for the fifth. A store is also situated convenient to the Mill, under the charge of W. K. MASTEN, who will sell goods on as favorable terms prices as are given in Dallas. Wheat bought for our store in Dallas, and at the Cedar Spring store.
–GOLD, & DONALDSON. Dallas, Texas , April 7, 1855
In 1843, a trading post was established just outside the city of Dallas at the new settlement of Cedar Springs. There were few settlers at the time, so items traded were pretty much limited to only the essentials (groceries, ammo, buffalo hides). By 1850, though, sexier luxury goods like “hoopskirts, silk stockings, bridal bouquets, Bibles, accordions, Mustang liniment, snake-root and castor oil were listed in the inventory of a deceased merchant. This advance in merchandising may be attributed to the establishment by that time of a gristmill to which farmers from many miles around brought their grain. Naturally they visited the stores to trade” (WPA Dallas Guide and History). The Dallas Steam Mills was one of the first commercial mills in “the Cedar Spring,” and as it was affiliated with successful early Dallas retailers Gold and Donaldson, it must have also been one of the most profitable.
The community grew quickly. Until 1850. That was when Dallas County residents went to the polls and voted on which of the local communities would be the county seat. The choices were: the city of Dallas, Cedar Springs, and the ever-popular Hord’s Ridge. Cedar Springs came in dead last. The agony of defeat must have hit hard — the loss seems to have dampened civic enthusiasm and contributed to stagnant growth. It wasn’t until the turn of the century that the area — by then called Oak Lawn — had rebounded with a boom in population. By the 1940s, though, the area had been officially annexed by the city of Dallas. Oak Lawn (né Cedar Springs) had, at least, managed to hold onto a shred of independence a few decades longer than its former opponent had — Hord’s Ridge had changed its name to Oak Cliff, but it, too, had been swallowed up by the voracious, mammoth city surrounding it. No hard feelings, guys. You can run but you can’t hide. Resistance has always been futile. We’re all just one big happy kudzu-like sprawling sprawl now.
Below is an interesting account of traveling through Cedar Springs in 1852.
Dallas Steam Mills ad from the Dallas Herald, 1855.
Quote mentioning accordions and hoopskirts from The WPA Dallas Guide and History (Dallas Public Library Texas Center for the Book, University of North Texas Press, 1992). p.124
The account of passing though Cedar Springs, by Charles DeMorse, is the lead story in the July 17, 1852 issue of Clarksville’s Northern Standard newspaper; it can be found here on UNT’s invaluable Portal to Texas History site; from the collection of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
A biography of Charles DeMorse, writer and editor of Clarksville’s Northern Standard can be found here.
The Handbook of Texas History entry for Cedar Springs is here.
Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.