The original Trinity River at Dallas was sluggish during the summer months. Even scant. A red and awesome terror in a wet spring. Too much river . . . or not enough. Called Daycoa by some Indians, Arkikosa by others, in 1690 Alonso de Leon, a Mexican-born officer of the Spanish crown, bestowed its modern name: La Santisima Trinidad,The Most Holy Trinity.
Trinity: three-in-one. Was it only a coincidence that the veins of the upper river, coming together as they do in three-part pattern, gave the earliest identity to a place in the wilderness that would someday be Dallas?
The Three Forks, it was called: the West Fork rolling in from the prairies, joined (near the spot where the city would begin) by the Elm Fork from the north, flowing together southward until the East Fork made the Trinity whole.
It was an easy landmark, and although today not all the forks are within the city limits, we may be fairly certain when those old travelers and explorers mention visiting the Three Forks, they crossed some part of the present city of Dallas.
It was not until 1837 did citizens of the new Republic of Texas make an appearance in the Three Forks. And it was inauspicious enough. In the autumn of that year some fifty men from LaGrange chased an Indian raiding party up the Colorado River to present-day Eastland County. They divided, and twenty men under Lieutenants Van Benthuysen and Miles moved easterly and struck the Trinity in Wise County. There, on November 10, they were ambushed and lost Lieutenant Miles and eight others, plus all the party’s horses.
Covered by nightfall, the survivors hid in the Trinity bottoms and for five days followed its banks until they came to a ford which was (although they didn’t know it) at the mouth of Turtle Creek. They crossed and rested on a bluff overlooking the river. They repaired a half a mile east to camp for five days at a spring where the Santa Fe building stands today on Jackson Street. They applied mud and oak ooze poultices to their wounds, killed buffalo for meat and clothing, then limped back to LaGrange.
Courtesy Dallas The Deciding Years-A Historical Portrait by A. C. Greene.