We drive the streets of East Dallas each day, giving little thought to the history behind names. Maneuvering to and from downtown during rush hour traffic, we memorize which lanes are closed for Dart Light Rail construction, driving on autopilot. We know which streets connect Gaston to Interstate 30. We know the quickest way home from anywhere in the city.
Do you ever wonder, what’s behind the name of your street?
Captain Jefferson Peak is often referred to as the Father of East Dallas. In 1855, Peak (a Captain in the Mexican War) moved his family from Kentucky to Dallas. After a five-week journey, he settled on farmland at the current intersection of Peak and Worth, building the first brick house in Dallas. His property, totaling 200 acres, became known as Peak’s Addition.
Many Dallas streets bear the name of Peak’s eleven children and their spouses including sons Worth, Junius, Victor and Carroll. (Matt Street was renamed Sycamore due to city council issue.) Flora Street was named after his daughter Florence who married Tom Field (Field Street). Daughter Sarah wed businessman Harwood (Harwood Street).
Juliette, possibly Dallas’ first philanthropist, was perhaps the most well known of the Peak children. Upon her death, she left money and land to create Juliet Fowler Home. The street out front bears her name.
The Peak family led a colorful life as confederate soldiers, Dallas City Marshal and Dallas County Clerk. Captain Junius Peak headed up a special company of the Texas Rangers to capture outlaw Sam Bass. Bass’ gang was involved in a series of stagecoach and train robberies within twenty-five miles of Dallas. Junius deserved a street for this.
Years later, streets are often renamed. Reasons vary and are sometimes politically driven. But the history woven through older sections of Dallas is significant and worth remembering.
The further back we look, the further up the street we can see…
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