MARSHALL LAFAYETTE JOHNSON, 1848-1939

MARSHALL LAFAYETTE JOHNSON, 1848-1939
Tells About Pioneer Days in Dallas, Texas

Marshall L. Johnson tells about Pioneer days in Dallas, Texas during his Dallas Morning News Interview.  “I noticed an article in The News of Dec. 24, 1922 from the pen of Dr. John H. Mitchell, who came to Dallas in 1863. His description of Dallas at that time, is, in the main, correct, but I can go him one better, from the fact that I came to Dallas in 1855, when a mere lad. It is rather hard for me to give a description of Dallas at that time, because of the fact that there was practically no Dallas here then. There were, however, a few log cabins scattered along on the banks of the Trinity, and one or two small “business stores,” but the largest business “in town” was a tent containing about $100 worth of merchandise, situated in the boggy bottom of the Trinity, just across the river from where the courthouse now stands.”

Fleas and mosquitoes were unusually plentiful at that time, and it kept one busy fighting them off. This, I well remember. Oak, mesquite and bois d’arc trees occupied what is now the best part of the city.

It was not long, however, until the town began to build “plank houses,” by sending old clumsy ox wagons down into East Texas, where the pines grew and the sawmills were situated.
What we called a fine house in those days would be called a mere hut at this time.

I have gathered persimmons on trees that stood near where The News office now stands. Yes, I was here when that little old steam boat came up the Trinity River from the Gulf to Dallas, and it stayed here until it rotted down and went to the junk pile.

I am old now, and am not prepared to live — but, I am preparing to die. In 1867, I went out West to Weatherford, Parker County, to defend my country against the hostile Comanche and Kiowa Indians, and incidentally, to engage in the cattle business, and I am, at this very moment, publishing a book, giving a description of the many encounters I had with them, and the hardships early settlers had to endure on the frontier of Texas.

By M. L. JOHNSON, 2611 Elm street, Dallas, Texas.
Dallas Morning News, Dec. 29, 1922. Transcribed by Jim Wheat.

 

Note: M. L. Johnson died Feb. 3, 1939 and is buried at Restland Memorial Park in Dallas.