JESUS F. DE LA TEJA, Editor
Land is the Cry! Warren Angus Ferris, Pzoneer Texas Surveyor and Founder of Dallas
County. By Suzanne Starling. (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1998.
Pp. xv+247. Illustrations, acknowledgments, preface, introduction, conclu-
sion, epilogue, appendices, index. ISBN o-87611-161-4. $29.95, cloth.)
The expansive scale and delightful character of Texas land seizes the imagina-
tion of oldtimer and newcomer alike. Most Texans dream of real estate and will
readily identify with the exciting life of Warren Angus Ferris, a romantic entre-
preneur from Buffalo, New York, who developed a passion for Texas land.
Beginning in 1839 this mountain man turned Nacogdoches county surveyor
made successive trips into the Trinity River country. Warren Ferris dodged
Indians, rallied nervous companions, suffered the elements, and risked all to
survey a speculative city at the reputed Three Forks of the Trinity River.
Dallas is rich in real estate even though there is no gold mine so obviously
explanatory to value. But Dallas does have, as they say, location. Suzanne
Starling's Land is the Cry! provides a fascinating account of Warren Ferris, a
moody, literate, and gifted Yankee who played a major role in the siting, survey-
ing, and settlement of Dallas. Indeed, the life of Ferris illuminates the forces that
developed raw frontier into premier location.
Starling's painstaking research shows on almost every page of this excellent
biography. One is cautioned to read the footnotes for additional insights.
Starling's dramatic and detailed work is more than the biography of a man. It is
also the contextual story of a "land mania" that gripped the republic and state.
Shortly after the bullying removal of Cherokees, Ferris wrote in October 1839,
"land is the cry! There are many who sacrifice honor and all things else to the
God property." Ferris himself allied with a Mississippi speculator in a survey and
promotion of the Three Forks location.
Sometimes dubbed "The Father of Dallas," Ferris exemplified the troubled
American thirst for financial success: "Money is the modern God worshipped by
all the world," he wrote in 1840o. Despite his efforts Ferris never got rich from his
work in Dallas County. But he did leave a sizable body of papers behind. From a
host of primary documents author Suzanne Starling reconstructs a stunning nar-
rative of the individual behind the pioneer surveys of the Three Forks region.
Between 1840-1842 Ferris work parties spent months surveying the region.
Important Dallas streets largely follow his old survey lines. Ferris was so pleased
with "soul-stirring" prairie land that he returned in 1845, settling a section on
White Rock Creek--the contemporary Forest Hills Addition.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed November 25, 2014.