Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall, 1992 Page: 21
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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INCE THE MIDDLE of the nineteenth century,
with the establishment of the La Reunion
colony west of the Trinity River, immigrants from
a variety of ethnic backgrounds have settled and
taken part in the growth of Dallas. One group,
however, remains largely untraced and inconspicuous
in Dallas history, the Mexican Americans, who
have resided in Dallas for a century and now make
up the largest and fastest growing minority in
While Dallas did not have any resident Mexicans
before the Civil War, the town served as a
trade center for Mexican merchants from San Antonio
and other parts of southwest Texas. The visits
of the Mexican merchants, with their wooden carts,
were described in detail by the Dallas Herald, as
were all unusual events.' Following the Civil War,
Mexican sheepherders and cattle herders frequented
Dallas, selling their livestock. After the coming of
the railroads in the 1870s, the Mexican livestock
trade in Dallas increased as rancheros were able to
ship their cattle to distant sites.
The building of the railroads, creating work
for unskilled laborers, also attracted the first Mexican
settlers in the region, although it is difficult to
estimate their numbers. Because most railroad
workers lived in makeshift camps and were often
outside the city proper, they were overlooked in the
censuses and city directories. The 1880 census for
Dallas County, for instance, lists only six Mexicans.2
The city directory for 1873 lists only four
men with Spanish surnames, two fruit stand operators,
a cook, and a merchant.
By the turn of the century, Dallas and the
entire Southwest were experiencing great economic
growth. Industry flourished, and new factories and
plants brought thousands of low-paying, unskilled
jobs to the Dallas area. The new economic opportunities
in turn attracted vast numbers of Mexican
immigrants to southwestern cities.3 Between 1890
and 1910, the population of Dallas more than
doubled, from 38,067 to 92,104, and the Mexicanborn
population of the county quintupled, from 106
to 583.4 It was during this period that Mexican
communities took root and grew in Dallas.
First housed in abandoned boxcars near the
Katy railroad yards downtown, families later began
to settle directly north of downtown in an area
soon known as "Little Mexico."5 Once a prosperous
Jewish neighborhood, the area had declined to
become the city's "red-light" district, full of brothels
and bars. Dallas police cleaned up the area, and
Mexican immigrants began to move in alongside
Above: The northeast corner of Turney and Randall
Streets in Little Mexico, November 20, 1940.
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 4, Number 2, Fall, 1992, periodical, 1992; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35117/m1/23/: accessed April 22, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.