The annexation of East Dallas: How our neighborhood became an important part of the City of Dallas in one record-breaking year.

Certificate for shares in the East Dallas Water Supply Company, signed by Thomas Marsalis, developer of Oak Cliff.
Certificate for shares in the East Dallas Water Supply Company, signed by Thomas Marsalis, developer of Oak Cliff.

Jan. 1, 1890 was the beginning of a happy New Year for the City of Dallas. Through an unusual turn of events, Dallas briefly became the largest city in Texas, while closing the door on the short but lively history of a town called East Dallas.

It all started with a Dallas pioneer named William H. Gaston.

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A Civil War veteran and a banking and real estate entrepreneur, Capt. Gaston gambled on Dallas’ future and purchased 40 acres of land adjacent to the eastern boundary of the city and proclaimed it East Dallas. It was incorporated as a municipal government in 1882 and expanded to 1,429 acres that stretched from the Baylor Hospital area south to what’s now Fair Park. It was also attractive to business; it encompassed the junction of Dallas’ first two railroads – the Houston and Texas Central and the Texas and Pacific – and had a waterworks that was eyed with envy by the City of Dallas.

With little doubt, a consolidation of Dallas and East Dallas benefited both cities. In March, 1889, State Sen. R.S. Kimbrough introduced a bill to repeal East Dallas’ charter and merge with Dallas, adding three new wards to Dallas and strengthening its tax base. The result was not only a win-win for everyone, but by making it legal on New Years’ Eve 1889, it bumped Dallas’ population to 38,067, making it the largest city in Texas in the 1890 census.

A map of property owners in East Dallas in 1889, one year before it was annexed into the City of Dallas. Courtesy of Dallas Municipal Archives, City of Dallas
A map of property owners in East Dallas in 1889, one year before it was annexed into the City of Dallas.

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  • topham

    Thanks! Very interesting. As far as I know, all of that information is accurate regarding Richard M. Gano and his family.

  • Cehmann

    Found this in a Dallas Historical Society document:

    Other street name changes in the vicinity of NDHS included Missouri to Tuttle and later Buena Vista, Preston Avenue to Travis Avenue, Walter to Fitzhugh, Quick to Elizabeth and Keating to the North Central Expressway Service Road. To the east: Gano Avenue (not Gano Street) to Bennett, Juliet to Monarch, Frederica to Capitol, Bowell to Belmont, Grandview to Laneri, State to Manett, Bon View to Mission and Lawrence to Homer.
    The name of Gano Avenue should be of general interest, and the name it was changed to, Bennett, is of personal interest to me. Gano Avenue was named for General Richard M. Gano who was a distinguished military man, but also an attorney and an outstanding preacher. He was the City Attorney of the City of East Dallas before it was annexed by the City of Dallas in 1889.
    General Gano’s great grandfather was a Baptist minister named John Gano, who was a chaplain in the Colonial Army during the Revolutionary War and who baptized General George Washington in 1783. Of further interest is the fact that General Richard Gano’s great grandson was the industrialist and movie producer,Howard Hughes. When the name of the street was changed, it was named for my mother’s grandfather, Dr.Joseph A. Bennett. General Gano and my mother’s other grandfather, Jack Cole, were friends and both were elders of the First Christian Church in Dallas. Cole and Gano, with several other members of the church, built the first church building of any kind in the City of Dallas in 1867.

  • topham

    Thanks for this excellent article, John. I’m interested in Gano Avenue, which intersects Ross in the N.E. corner of the plat at what I estimate to be today’s Bennett or Fitzhugh. I’m a descendant of Richard M. Gano, for whom Gano Street in the Cedars is named, but I’d never seen Gano Avenue on a map before. Do you have any information about its naming, what it’s called today, and when and why the name was changed? Thanks.

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