Hord’s Ridge

If there had been a rhyme or reason — timeline — for posting the history of Oak Cliff, this would have been the first one. Actually, it would be the second part. The Army removed the Indians in the area, and using incentives, they had settlers move in on the land.

William H. and Mary Hord settled on the land west of the Trinity on the banks of Cedar Creek (that runs through the Dallas Zoo).


HORD’S RIDGE, TEXAS. Hord’s Ridge was on Cedar Creek at the site of what is now Oak Cliff, three miles south of Dallas in central Dallas County. As early as 1837 William S. Beaty claimed land a half mile east of what was to be the settlement of Hord’s Ridge. In 1841 the Leonard and the Coombes families settled to the west and northwest of the area. William Henry Hord arrived from Tennessee with his family and three slaves in 1845 to be part of the Peters colony. Hord had originally traveled to Texas in 1839 with a group of volunteers who served under Gen. Thomas J. Rusk in a campaign in East Texas against Cherokee Indians. By the end of 1845 the farming community had a population of eighty to ninety and a gristmill that had been constructed by Aaron Overton on Five Mile Creek. Overton’s mill, the only one in the area, could process 100 bushels a day. The Hords operated a boardinghouse across the Trinity River from Dallas, and Mary Hord, William Hord’s wife, offered English lessons to area children. Hord’s Ridge continued to develop into the next decade. Residents attempted to make it the county seat of Dallas County in 1850 in an election against Cedar Springs and Dallas. The first election eliminated Cedar Springs, and Dallas won the second election, 244 to 216. In 1879 the Dallas, Cleburne and Rio Grande Railway finished laying track on the route from Dallas to Cleburne, which crossed the southeastern corner of Hord’s Ridge. The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe built into the area in 1882, and in 1889 a station opened at Sparks, on the other side of Cedar Creek from Hord’s Tavern. Hord’s Ridge maintained its identity until 1887, when Thomas Marsalis and John S. Armstrong bought a large parcel of land on the southwest bank of the Trinity River, including the Hord homestead, and named the area Oak Cliff. In 1903 Oak Cliff was annexed by Dallas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: William L. McDonald, Dallas Rediscovered: A Photographic Chronicle of Urban Expansion, 1870-1925 (Dallas: Dallas County Historical Society, 1978). Bill Minutaglio and Holly Williams, The Hidden City: Oak Cliff, Texas (Dallas: Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, 1990). David S. Switzer, It’s Our Dallas County (Dallas: Switzer, 1954).

Matthew Hayes Nall

Came Here by Wagon.
Judge Hord came to Texas in 1845 from Tennessee. With him, were his family and two negro slaves. The trip was made in ox carts. The land on which they settled was obtained under grant from the republic of Texas. It consisted of about a square mile along Cedar creek, west of where Lancaster avenue now lies.
The first home built there was a one-room log cabin. It was later added to and continued to be the Hord home until the late ’80’s. At that time, Judge Hord disposed of his property to T. L. Marsalis, original developer of Oak Cliff, as a part of the city of Dallas. In order to escape the crowding of neighbors incident to expansion of the city, he moved to a newer home farther away from the center of activity.
In the early days, the main trail to West Texas ran past the Hord home. During the California gold rush of 1849, thousands of adventurers traveled past the house on this trail and made it a stopping point at which to obtain water and other supplies.
The Delaware Indians, at that time, had a village of about 1,000 persons at the mouth of Cedar creek. It is said they would often come to the Hord home and attempt to trade skins and honey for Judge Hord’s little golden-haired baby.
These historic old houses are only a few of the many that were erected in Dallas county by the early settlers in the ’40’s and ’50’s. Some of the others are still standing and have histories as fascinating as the ones discovered by Mr. Kamacker. Others have fallen in the path of progress and now are only memories in the minds of pioneers, who recall the days when they were centers of home life and civic activity for the first white inhabitants of North Texas.

– December 20, 1925, Dallas Daily Times Herald, Sec. III, p. 1.
– o o o –


Until recent years, the log cabin of William Henry Hord sat on land in front of the old animal shelter near the Dallas Zoo. To make room for parking, the cabin was moved to a new location on Cockrell Hill Road between Illinois and Kiest.

Coombs Creek runs through Oak Cliff about two blocks west of Westmoreland off Illinois.

Overton Road is south just past Kiest off I-35 before Ledbetter (Loop 12).

The Very First 7-11

Below is a great website if you want to know the history of Dallas and Oak Cliff go to this link:
http://www.dallasnews.com/s/dws/spe/2002/hiddenhistory/1926-1950/070002dnhhstore.443559b3.html and click on a date across the top.

LULAC now occupies the 2nd 7-11 built at Edgefield and 12th St. The original store was frame and built closer to the street. In addition to the story below, three blocks east (across from Carnival Food Stores) where the multi-cultural center is located, there was an ice house. Pictures show the ice delivered by horses.

As many well know, when the houses in this neighborhood were built, houses didn’t have electricity. Ice Box was the early refrigerator. Blocks of ice were placed inside to keep food cold. Maybe the block of ice lasted a day.

Found on a different website:
Founded in 1927, these stores, though not called 7-Eleven yet, started off quite simply as a side operation for Southland Ice Company. As well as selling their ice, Southland created a place to buy milk, eggs and bread, making up for the closed grocery stores at their ice manufacturing plant in Dallas, Texas. Customers were pleased as punch with the odd-hour offerings and soon more of the convenience stores started popping up. Called Tote’m, since customers “toted” away their goods, the stores even had totem poles in the front. In 1946, the names of the stores were changed in honor of their newly extended hours, from 7AM until 11PM – and – open seven days a week.

1927: First convenience store
Oak Cliff icehouse created concept of quick, easy shopping


By BRIAN ANDERSON / Dallas Web Staff

John Jefferson “Uncle Johnny” Green couldn’t have known what he was starting when he began stocking grocery staples at his Oak Cliff ice dock in 1927.

In addition to a 25-pound block of ice for 11 cents, Mr. Green’s patrons could pick up milk for 7 cents a quart, cheese for 24 cents a pound and bread for 9 cents a loaf. Sorry, no Slurpees – but they were on the way.

Seventy-five years later, the Southland Ice Company that owned Uncle Johnny’s icehouse has evolved into 7-Eleven, and the corner of 12th Street and Edgefield Avenue is recognized as the site of the world’s first convenience store.

“That was the first definition of convenience,” Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, said of Mr. Green’s shop. “He figured out people not only wanted convenience, but convenience of hours.”

Mr. Green kept his doors open for 16 hours a day, seven days a week, during the hot summer months. He supplied the blocks of ice used in homes of that era to keep perishables fresh.

But Mr. Green began to notice that his customers wanted more. A neighbor wanted milk for her children late one evening. Another customer came in search of eggs on a Sunday afternoon. Others commented that a few loaves of bread would be welcomed on the store shelves.

Also Online
7-Eleven, Inc.

National Association of Convenience Stores

Dallas timeline

Dallas trivia quiz

When Mr. Green’s idea for adding a few basic essentials to his inventory turned a tidy profit, Southland Ice officials took notice. The concept spread, and the convenience store industry was born.

“You have a group of people who have embraced convenience,” Mr. Lenard said of Texans and their love for one-stop shopping. Of the approximately 125,000 convenience stores in the country today, 12,800 are located in Texas.

“The industry will celebrate its 75th birthday in May,” Mr. Lenard said. “Because everything is bigger in Texas, Texas by far has the most convenience stores in the nation.”

7-Eleven continued operating at the original Oak Cliff location until 1995. But a lack of gasoline pumps and limited parking space spelled the end for the store. The property was donated to the League of United Latin American Citizens in 1998.

“They have another one on Hampton (Road) where we get our Slurpee fix,” laughed Renato De Los Santos, director of the LULAC National Education Service Center now located on the former site of Uncle Johnny Green’s store.

Gone are the racks of magazines and boxes of candy bars, but a 7-Eleven welcome mat remains at the front door of the building at 12th and Edgefield.

“We are using the building for our leadership and educational programs,” De Los Santos said. “They donated the building to us, so we have a 7-Eleven mat in front. It’s one of the largest donations we’ve ever received.”

A large desk once used by a 7-Eleven president sits just inside the building’s front door, welcoming the more than 1,200 North Texas students served by the LULAC center.

“Our primary mission is to help prepare them to go to college and get scholarships,” Mr. De Los Santos said, noting that 7-Eleven remains a major sponsor of the organization’s scholarship programs.

Mr. De Los Santos said he uses the location’s unique history as a teaching tool for visiting students.

“I take the students outside and show them the house next door,” he said, explaining that the neighboring home still looks much like it did when it was photographed alongside Uncle Johnny’s Southland Ice Company store in 1927. The LULAC parking lot is located where the store itself once stood.

“For the most part, they get excited and want to see more pictures,” Mr. De Los Santos said. “They relate to it. It’s in their neighborhood. It’s personal to them.”

He said the evolution of 7-Eleven shows students how a modest operation with humble beginnings can grow into a story of success.

Mr. Lenard agreed.

“I’m intrigued as to who the next Uncle Johnny will be to take a new idea and build an industry around it.”

E-mail briananderson@dallasnews.com

©2004 Belo Interactive

Kidd Springs Country Club

Originally, Kidd Springs was a private estate, “owned by James Kidd in the 1870’s. It was a private park in 1895, when the Kidd Springs Fishing and Boating Club began construction of a small spring fed lake. The park became a part of the Dallas Parks and recreation system in 1947.” wikipedia.

I’ve seen pictures of the private club where they had boat races. There’s also a postcard with a huge slide when it was a city park. During the 50’s, the park had a frame building near the existing pool and picnic area on Canty for dances and social gatherings.

During the 1980’s there was such a spirit of community in the area. Many families from the area joined forces and errected a large playground with a castle theme — an all day project — built on the Cedar Hill side. Modern in it’s day to prevent deterrioration, it eventually had to be torn down because of chemicals used in the wood. Today, a new, modern, and multi use playground stands in it’s place.

Once upon a time, kids explored the creek area where natural spring water flows.

Below is an account of a Times Herald Reporter when the park was a private “country club” that drew people to the area. Lake Cliff Amusement Park was either new to the area, or would soon open.


Is Being Arranged in the Su-
burbs of Dallas.

Boating, Bathing and Fishing, With all
Modern Accessories, Will be Had at
the Famous Kidd Springs. A
Visit to the Grounds.

When the work planned by the recently organized Kidd Springs Fishing and Boating Club is completed, there will be one of the prettiest pleasure resorts in the state of Texas, or the southwest, almost within the city limits of Dallas.
This organization, which is arranged on the plan of a stock company, with each shareholder on pleasure bent, has bought nineteen acres of land, including the famous Kidd Springs, which have, for years, poured forth an inexhaustible supply of water, in the suburbs of Oak Cliff, and only a short ride or drive from Dallas.
The stock of the organization is divided into seventy-five shares at the value of $200 per share. To be a member, the person must hold one share, and no one man is allowed more than two shares. This is done in order to regulate the number of members.
Accompanied by a member of the club, a TIMES HERALD reporter paid a visit to the grounds a few days ago. Crossing the mighty Trinity on board an Oak Cliff car, and being whirled through that prosperous suburb with only a glimpse of the points of interest. the end of the line was gained. Turning to a right angle in a northward direction, a ten minute walk brought to view the famous springs, surrounded by a thick grove of pecan trees, interspersed with walnut, persimmon, plum and other trees. Here, a contractor with eighteen teams was at work, making the excavations and building the dam to form a lake. In this work, Nature has assisted greatly, a natural ravine, which, when properly dammed and some excavations made, will form a lake of remarkable size, being about 500 yards long, and about 200 yards wide, with an average depth of 25 feet. At the head of the lake will be a miniature island, which will be graced with a pagoda in the center, gainable by rustic bridges, and complete in other appointments.
Among the pecan trees above the lake will be built a club house, plans of which will hereafter be decided on. On the lake, a number of boats will placed and probably a steam launch for pleasure purposes. Bathing will be arranged for, the adults at a point seemingly designed for the purpose near the dam, and the younger element at the head of the lake, where the water deepens gradually.
The work of excavating and building the dam is rapidly nearing completion. The springs will furnish sufficient water the year around to keep the lake supplied, and an overflow is arranged at one part of the dam where the waste water can escape. It is intended that the arrangements will be complete by next summer, with the exception of the fishing feature, which will take a year or so to develop. As soon as the lake is finished, it will be supplied with all the choice finny tribes.
Every arrangement will look to the pleasure of the members, their families and friends. The rules in this regard will be just strict enough to accord every one equal rights.

– December 10, 1895, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 1.
– o o o –

KLIF Radio

I don’t think there was a teenager in Dallas during the 50’s and 60’s that didn’t listen to KLIF. Only the wealthy had AC in the car, so kids cruised the streets to the top 40 rock and roll listening to KLIF with the windows down. KLIF was up there with the Texas Theater, Hampton Road Drive In (where the hospital is located across from Kiest Park), Kiest Park, Sivils (a unique drive-inn place for fast food where Ft. Worth Ave and Davis come together), Bronco Bowl, Lake Cliff Park and Hampton Road. Those are the place teens hung out in the summer time. If they were in a car or near a radio, they were listening to KLIF.

But KLIF was unique to Oak Cliff. Rose-Mary Rumbley tells it best:

“Dallas had the first municipally owned radio station west of the Mississippi. That station of 100 watts began broadcasting in 1921 with the call letters, WRR. Later, the Federal Communications Commission announced that only stations east of the Mississippi would have call letters starting with a W. Those stations west of the river would have call letters starting with K. The early ones here kept the W — WFAA, WBAP, WRR.
The municipal station was started by a young electrical engineer, Henry Garrett, who worked for the fire department. His father was the beloved Episcopalian, Bishop Garrett. A park in east Dallas was named for this fine leader. His son, Henry, began to send out messages about fires to those trucks away from the fire stations. Later, between fire alarms, WRR played phonograph records for entertainment. Then news broadcasts were added. Eventually, news services got their own stations, and the municipal station was almost out of business. Times Herald (the nightly newspaper once upon a time) owner Edwin J. Kiest (namesake of Kiest Park who donated the land to the city) raised funds to sustain WRR.
On November 9, 1947, a young navy lieutenant, Gordon McLendon, acquired permission from the FCC to begin broadcasting from a 1,000 watt station atop Cliff Towers, Oak Cliff. The call letters were appropriately chosen, KLIF.
During the war, Lt. McLendon broadcast in the Pacific at least three times a week, becoming the favorite voice of the guys on ships. In his satirical program, he broadcast Japanese propaganda with his own ad libs thrown in as the character, Lowell Gram Kaltenheatter. That name was derived from the names of WWII war correspondents. As that character, he took swipes at anything, including the brass, and seamen loved him for it. His type of broadcast could not have been beamed to the mainland, but for the ships at sea, anything went.
Now that the war was over, McLendon, from his peaceful quarters at Cliff Towers, decided that his wartime character’s ad libs would be great for returning servicemen and anyone else listening to KLIF. Dallas loved him — the old Scotsman, Gordon McLendon, as he billed himself. He was first to come up with “The top 40.” He had flag pole sitters. There was a live blonde on a billboard shelf waving to passing motorists. He taught a parrot to say KLIF by putting him in a room and bombarding the poor bird with call letters. The parrot started giving out the letters to get out of the room.
My kids grew up in the 50’s and 60’s with two great characters at KLIF — Irving Harrigan (Ron Chapman) and Charlie Brown (Jack Woods). These guys, like their boss, Gordon, took swipes at everyone including the brass.”

After KLIF moved from Cliff Towers, it located to the triangular building where Commerce St., Jackson, and Central Expressway come together downtown. This was before the new Central that goes around downtown. With all those windows, they created many a traffic jam at the location as kids drove by just to honk at the DJ’s. I guess it was in the 70’s when their format changed to talk radio.

And anything else………

Wes Wise, mentioned among the pages, became a mayor of Dallas.

Thomas L. Marsalis, Father of Oak Cliff

I worked with children for many years in the schools and community. I saw little kids, thinking, “Who sits before us? What will they become in life? What influence will teachers, parents and others have on their future? What contribution to society will they make? What influence will they bring on others?”

Thomas L. Marsalis. His family moved to Corsicana, TX, from Mississippi when he was a boy. He becomes my favorite person as a developer of Oak Cliff.

At 19, “Tom,” as he was known to friends, was a stock boy in a wholesale grocery in Corsicana. He was only 20 years old in 1872 when he moved to Dallas and opened his own wholesale grocery operation. Within a few years, his grocery business was making $750,000, annually. Oak Cliff, as we know it, was not a city at that point because the City of Dallas had annexed Hord’s Ridge.

In 1881, Thomas Marsalis organized the first fire company in Dallas.

In 1884, Marsalis took on John S. Armstrong as his partner, and by 1887, their four stores were grossing over $20 million a year. In 1887, Marsalis and Armstrong began to diversify their operations and formed the Dallas Land and Loan Company. They bought 2,000 acres across the Trinity from Dallas, including what was once Hord’s Ridge (area now known as the Dallas Zoo and nearby properties along with most of the Lake Cliff area), and renamed the new township area Oak Cliff.

Marsalis and Armstrong had sectioned off the land into lots and selling them a little at a time. To drive the price of the lots up, Marsalis would hold out on some of the land. Armstrong disagreed, and the two men parted ways November 2, 1887. Armstrong took the grocery business in Dallas and Marsalis took the real estate in Oak Cliff. John Armstrong bought or took up some land from the partnership, too, in the Dallas area that is now known as Highland Park/Park Cities — Armstrong Parkway. After the break-up, Marsalis personally financed the $500,000 initial land purchase and cost of street improvements in Oak Cliff, and built a complete waterworks system and electric light plant for his growing development. Marsalis was first to pave a city street in Oak Cliff with bois d’arc blocks.

Marsalis set aside 150 acres for a landscaped park — which Dallas eventually named Marsalis Park and Zoo — and constructed an amusement park to include a skating rink, three story dance pavillion, and summer opera house at the highest point of the park (notice Opera St. just off Marsalis and I-35), all of which helped to promote Oak Cliff as a vacation resort. Marsalis dammed Cedar Creek — the creek that runs through the property — to create a two mile long “Park Lake” for these mineral baths and health spa that drew visitors here for vacations. There was an outdoor pavilion with a shingled roof that had a stage at one end, seats for the audience, and railings instead of walls creating an open-air building for summer use. Doing research, Zoo employees confirm it still exists on the property but is closed to the public.

Oak Cliff had a trolley for local travel, and later the Interurban came in from areas such as Lisbon (Veteran’s Hospital area), Lancaster and another line from Ft. Worth. The tourism in Oak Cliff drew a lot of people into the area, along with the natural beauty of Oak Cliff that sat high on a hill. I recently saw a photograph of the people who had come to purchase lots around the area of the Zoo when it was first plotted. By the time eager buyers arrived, the lots were sold.

In 1889, Marsalis constructed the Park Hotel — a huge, Victorian, 4-story structure at a cost of more than $100,000 on a portion of what is now the I-35/Beckley Ave. intersection. It was modeled after the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.


There was a financial panic in 1893 that brought financial ruin. Growth in Oak Cliff came to a virtual halt. People were not freely spending money for tourism to the “spa” of these natural springs and “life-saving mineral baths,” and in the end the park closed and so did the Park Hotel. Marsalis, dependent on profit from his investments, went bankrupt and was forced to sell off investments in all his business companies. An influential man, Thomas L. Marsalis made a positive difference in the lives of many in Dallas and built Oak Cliff into a city with a vision and many amenities. He became known as the Father of Oak Cliff.

Dallas annexed Oak Cliff after a vote in 1903. In March 1909, the Park Board officially purchased the 36.57 acres (some reports say 47.7 acres) known as Marsalis’ Park (the now Dallas Zoo), from the Dallas Trust and Savings bank for $15,000. In 1912, after the Oak Cliff Viaduct was built, some citizens began expressing a desire to have a major zoo. Because the State Fair was expanding, city officials moved the zoo from “City Park” (Fair Park area) to it’s new location which had been renamed Forest Park on June 30, 1909; making the landscaped area popular for picnics and outings.

If you visit the Zoo, today, when you cross that bridge into the zoo itself, look down in the creekbed and notice the springs of water coming through the rocks. The North Oak Cliff area was known for artesian water, we once had our own fresh water supply before the City of Dallas shut it down in the 1950’s or early 60’s.

In 1888, the Dallas Hams played baseball on a site near Colorado and I-35. It would later become Rebel Stadium for the minor league and then Barnett Field (minor league), a popular favorite into the 50’s.

Toward the turn of the century, Charles Mangold developed the Lake Cliff Amusment Park, and again, people were coming to Oak Cliff for entertainment.

Thomas L. Marsalis founded and served as president of the Oak Cliff Hotel Company, Dallas and Oak Cliff Railroad Company and the Dallas Land and Loan Company.

(The Park Hotel ultimately became the Oak Cliff College for Young Ladies in 1892, then the Eminence College for Young Ladies. When that folded, the structure became Hotel Cliff (I think this was around the time Lake Cliff Amusement Park was in Operation) around 1910 before it’s final name was changed to the Forest Inn in 1915 when Dallas moved the Zoo to the area and it was known as Forest Park Zoo before it became Marsalis Park Zoo. The hotel structure was razed in 1945.

Beckley Ave. was known as Hwy 77 and Zang Blvd. was Hwy 67 before the freeway was constructed.

Thomas Marsalis was married to Lizzie Crowdus. They had three children, one of whom became one of the founders of the American Stock Exchange. They lived in a two story grand home at Colorado and Marsalis. It no longer stands.

In 1890, Oak Cliff was an incorporated city with a population of nearly 3,000 people. On March 17, 1903, after a hotly contested vote and unhappy dialogue, the City of Oak Cliff was annexed by the City of Dallas. Even so, those who lived here continued to call the area Oak Cliff. As that generation married and moved further south, southwest and southeast, they continued to refer to the area as Oak Cliff. And so it goes today, six generations later.

Credits to the Handbook of Texas Online.
(This is a great resource for discovering Oak Cliff history.)