Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, Texas. Page: 425 of 1,110
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he came to Texas and located in Corsicana,
where he engaged in the wholesale grocery
business. In the following year he came to
Dallas, and here he did a wholesale grocery
business for a period of sixteen years. When
he was twenty-five he was doing an annual
business of $750,000, at thirty his sales
amounted to $1,500,000 annually, and
during the seventeen years of his career
as a wholesale grocerymnan his sales amounted
to over $20,000,000. During all this time
he took great interest in the upbuilding of
Dallas, contributing freely of his money and
time to the advancement of its best interests.
He helped to organize the first fire company
of Dallas, also helped to organize the Merchants'
Exchange, and is a charter member
of several of the railroad companies that have
built roads to Dallas. He built four grocery
stores during the time he was in business,
each larger and more commodious than the
one that preceded it. The last one he built
covered about an acre and had a railroad
track running into the building, where seven
cars could be loaded and unloaded. In 1881,
while the streets of Dallas were in mud, and
the people afraid to experiment, Mr. Marsalis
paved the street in front of his store with
bois d'arc blocks, thus demonstrating the
fact that this kind of pavement was a success.
His example was followed, and to-day
the streets of the city are well paved.
Mr. Marsalis is a born leader. He is one
of the very few men who know the wants of
a city. In Dallas, at this juncture, his business
tact had a large field for successful operations.
In 1887 he conceived the idea. of
giving Dallas a beautiful, accessible and
healthful residence and manufacturing section,
and to carry out this plan he bought
about 2,000 acres of land, just across the
river from Dallas, at that time in fields and
rocky cliffs. This he platted, and in paving
its streets spent about $200,000. In order to
make it accessible to the business portion of
Dallas, he built an elevated railway frown the
courthouse across the river
bottom to and
through this property, building a nice station
house on this road on every alternate block.
He then built a complete system of water
works, covering most of the streets and alleys.
He also built an electric light plant and a
magnificent hotel, and improved about 150
acres as a park. This park is the chief attraction
as a place of recreation for the people
of northern Texas. The first house that was
built on the ground was a school house, in
June, 1887. In order to make living in this
beautiful locality attractive it was necessary
to have first-class railway accommodations.
The same plan was adopted as the one used
on the elevated roads of New York city.
This is the only road of the kind in the
South. As has been shown, Mr. Marsalis
has invested a large fortune in this property.
People from all parts of Texas soon saw the advantages
of this business site at Dallas, commenced
to buy and build here, and by 1890,
three years from the date of purchase, it had
2,000 magnificent and commodious residences
and a population of 7,000. To-day it is an
incorporated city and is known as Oak Cliff.
It has seventy-five stores, four or live factories
of various kinds, and has recently let
the contract for a public high-school building,
and in September, 1892, a young ladies'
college will be opened for the accommodation
of some 300 young ladies. Already the city
of Oak Cliff is becoming the most prominent
educational as well as desirable residence location
in the State. For nearly five years Mr.
Marsalis has worked from fifteen to eighteen
hours a day, expending more labor on the
] enterprise than could be expected of any one
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Lewis Publishing Company. Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County, Texas., book, 1892; Chicago, Illinois. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth20932/m1/425/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Public Library.