Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 18, Number 1, Spring, 2006 Page: 61
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Bobby Lynn Shehorn, Pioneer History of
Dallas: A Masonic Perspective, 1848-1874
(Lancaster, VA: Anchor Communications
LLC, 2005, 244 pp. $30)
Rose-Mary Rumbley, Strolling Through the
Park: 100 Years of the Dallas Park and
Recreation Board (Austin: Nortex Press,
2005, 145 pp., $22.95)
Two recent books examine Dallas history
from specific angles: the role of the Masons in
developing the early community, and the role of
the Park Board in developing the city's parks and
related recreational activities.
Membership in a Masonic lodge seems to
have been almost a prerequisite to civic leadership
in pioneer Dallas. Tannehill Lodge, organized
in 1849, included among its early members
John McCoy, the town's first attorney; Dr.
Samuel Pryor, who would be elected its first
mayor in 1856; John Crockett, its second mayor;
Nat Burford, later a district judge; and
Postmaster Charles Durgin. Bobby Shehorn's
Pioneer History of Dallas includes biographical
sketches of these men as well as other early
Dallas Masons such as James W. Latimer, editor of
the town's first newspaper; Nicholas Darnell,
Speaker of the Texas House; and John J. Good,
Confederate colonel and another Dallas mayor.
Shehorn describes the central importance of
the Masonic Hall constructed by Tannehill
Lodge in 1850, a building that served the young
community as a sort of town hall by housing
Dallas's first schools, churches, and social organizations.
He also chronicles the histories of other
area lodges, which developed along with the
county. Himself a member of Tannehill Lodge,
Shehorn has drawn heavily on the lodge's
archives, and his extensive bibliography and endnotes
provide good documentation. An added
bonus are the many photographs and drawings
of individuals and sites.
Dallas was slow to develop a public park system.
Land for the first park, City Park, was
acquired in 1876, but it took another decade for
the site to be landscaped. And the city didn't
establish a Park Board to supervise its parks until
1905, when it acquired Fair Park. Even then,
development of parks was slow; in his 1911 City
Plan for Dallas, George Kessler lamented the
city's lack of green space, and he proposed parks
and landscaped boulevards. By 1925, the city had
added 3,500 acres of parkland, and today it
maintains more than 400 public parks.
In honor of the one-hundredth anniversary
of the Dallas Park Board, popular author and
speaker Rose-Mary Rumbley has written an
affectionate historical tribute, featuring especially
the stories of the dedicated individuals-from
groundskeepers to directors to board members-who
have contributed to the development
of the city's park system. She chronicles
sports, such as tennis and golf, which have flourished
in public parks, as well as art and educational
programming. Offering a wide variety of
activities for all ages, today's parks are a far cry
from the formally landscaped sites (with "keep
off the grass" signs) of a hundred years ago.
Of particular interest to local historians may
be Dr. Rumbley's identification of individuals for
whom Dallas parks have been named. In some
cases the honoree was also the donor, as with the
Craddock family, which gave the land in Oak
Spring 2006 LEGACIES 6
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Dallas Heritage Village. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 18, Number 1, Spring, 2006, periodical, 2006; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35088/m1/63/: accessed November 13, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.