John Neely Bryan - Margaret Beeman Bryan
N 32° 46.740 W 096° 48.480
14S E 705297 N 3628914
Quick Description: Details the History of the founding of Dallas
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 6/14/2006 11:33:53 AM
Waymark Code: WMEWB
John Neely Bryan, was born on December 24, 1810 in Fayetteville, Tennessee. He attended Fayetteville Military Academy and after reading law was admitted to the Tennessee bar. Around 1833 he moved to Arkansas, where he became an Indian trader and according to some sources, he and a partner laid out the town of Van Buren, Arkansas. Bryan made his first trip to the future site of Dallas, Texas, in 1839. He returned to Van Buren temporarily to settle his affairs, and in November 1841 he was back in Texas. He settled on the east bank of the Trinity River, not far from the present location of downtown Dallas. In the spring of 1842 he persuaded several families who had settled at Bird's Fort to join him. On February 26, 1843, Bryan married Margaret Beeman, a daughter of one of these families. The couple had five children. Bryan served as postmaster in the Republic of Texas and operated a ferry across the Trinity where Commerce Street crosses the river today. In 1844 he persuaded J. P. Dumas to survey and plat the site of Dallas and possibly helped him with the work. Bryan was instrumental in the organizing of Dallas County in 1846 and in the choosing of Dallas as its county seat in August 1850. When Dallas became the county seat, Bryan donated the land for the courthouse.
He joined the California gold rush in 1849 but returned to Dallas within a year. In January 1853 he was a delegate to the state Democratic convention. In 1855, after shooting a man who had insulted his wife, Bryan fled to the Creek Nation. The man recovered, but although Bryan was surely informed of that fact within months of his flight, he did not return to his family in Dallas for about six years. He traveled to Colorado and California, apparently looking for gold, and returned to Dallas in 1860 or early 1861. He joined Col. Nicholas H. Darnell's Eighteenth Texas Cavalry regiment in the winter of 1861 and served with that unit until late 1862, when he was discharged because of his age and poor health. When he returned to Dallas in 1862, he became active once more in community affairs. In 1863 he was a trustee for Dallas Male and Female Academy. In 1866 he was prominent in efforts to aid victims of the flood that occurred that year. He also chaired a citizens' meeting that pressed for the completion of the Houston and Texas Central Railway and presided at a rally seeking full political rights for all ex-Confederates. In 1871-72 he was one of the directors of the Dallas Bridge Company, the company that built the first iron bridge across the Trinity. He was also on the platform at the welcoming ceremonies for the Houston and Texas Central train when it pulled into town in mid-July 1872.
By 1874 Bryan's mind was clearly impaired, and he was admitted to the State Lunatic Asylum (later the Austin State Hospital ) in February 1877, and he died there on September 8 1877.
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This historical marker is located near the intersection of Houston and Main Streets at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.
Marker Number: 6605
John Neely Bryan, 1810-1877 and Margaret Beeman Bryan, 1825-1919.
In 1839 Tennessee lawyer John Neely Bryan chose this high bluff and shallow ford on the Trinity River as site for a trading post. Finding Indians scarce when he returned in 1841, he platted a town, installed a ferry, and called the place Dallas. In the 1840s, the Republic of Texas opened its Central National Road from here to the U.S. border, and drew settlers to this area with liberal land grants.
Margaret Beeman was a daughter of John Beeman, a prosperous man from Illinois, of North Carolina heritage. At 15, she met Bryan at the Cross Roads Camp Ground, Bowie County. Her father staked his claim about eight miles from Bryan's town. She and Bryan married in 1843, and became parents of six children. Margaret, her father, and other relatives strongly supported Bryan's work as "Father of Dallas."
Bryan went to the California gold rush in 1849, but gained no fortune. After his return, he donated 98 city lots for a courthouse and county seat, then sold his ferry and remaining interest in the townsite. In poor health for many years, he died in Austin at 67. Margaret Beeman Bryan lived to age 94, and saw Dallas attain a population of over 150,000. (1978)
Incise in base: A bicentennial project of the Junior League of Dallas, Inc., 1976
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