Dallas, Dallas County, Texas Genealogy

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Quick Facts

  • Settled: 1839
  • Incorporated: 2 February 1856.  J. P. Dumas laid out the town site in 1844.
  • Nickname: Big D
  • Area: 385.0 sq miles in five counties (Dallas, Denton, Collin, Rockwall, Kaufman)
  • Population: 1,316,350 (City of Dallas Demographics); 9th U.S. city 
  • Historic Population: 1860 - 678; 1900  - 42,639; 1950 - 434,462
  • Primary Industries: farming, cotton, oil (historic), mercantile interests, insurance, banking, electronics, telecommunications
  • Historic ethnic groups: Swiss, French, Belgium, German, Italian, Hispanic, African-American, Euro-American
  • Famous citizens: See Wikipedia List of People From Dallas
  • Additional City of Dallas Demographics


The Texas State Legislature established the city of Dallas as the county seat of Dallas County.  The town was incorporated by charter in 1856.  The first mayor was Samuel B. Pryor.  Other city officers elected in 1856 were Andrew M. Moore, marshall; William L. Murphy, treasurer; and Aldermen Willilam Burtle, W. Latimer, William J. Halsell, Burrill Wilkes, and George M. Baird.

A History of Dallas can be found on Wikipedia and The Handbook of Texas Online.

City Government

The incorporation act approved by the legislature in 1858 and ratified by the citizens the same year, set up a government of mayor, marshal and nine aldermen, elected for one year. During reconstruction (1871) the town was "reincorporated"  with elected mayor, eight aldermen, marshal and assessor and  collector. The aldermen served two year terms; the mayor, marshal and assessor and collector were elected for one year. In 1931 the charter was amended to set the current council-manager form of government. The City of Dallas has 14 council districts and a mayor elected at large. See the list of mayors with links to their biographies.

Mayors of Dallas

Dr. Samuel Pryor was the first mayor of Dallas, elected in 1856.  Fifty-two individuals have succeeded him, some serving more than one non-consecutive term. They are: Dr. Samuel Burwell Pryor (1856-57), John McClannahan Crockett (1857-58, 1859-61, 1865-66), Isaac C. Naylor (1858), Dr. Anderson Doniphan Rice (1858-59), Joshua Lafayette Smith (1861), Thomas Emory Sherwood (1861-62), no mayor (1862-65), John William Lane (1866), George William Guess (1866-68), Benjamin Long (1868-70, 1872-74), Henry Schley Ervay (1870-72), William Lewis Cabell (1874-76, 1877-79, 1883-85), John David Kerfoot (1876-77), James M. Thurmond (1879-80), John Jay Good (1880-81), Dr. John William Crowdus (1881-83), John Henry Brown (1885-87), Winship Capers Connor (1887-94), Bryan Thomas Barry (1894-95, 1897-98, 1904-06), Franklin Pierce Holland (1895-97), John Henry Traylor (1898-1900), Ben Elias Cabell (1900-04), Curtis Pendleton Smith (1906-07), Stephen John Hay (1907-11), William Meredith Holland (1911-15), Henry Dickinson Lindsley (1915-17), Joseph Earl Lawther (1917-19), Francis Wilson "Frank" Wozencraft (1919-21), Sawnie Robertson Aldredge (1921-23), Louis Blaylock (1923-27), Robert Eugene Burt (1927-29), John Waddy Tate (1929-31),Thomas Leonard "Pete" Bradford (1931-32), Charles Edward Turner (1932-35), George W. Sergeant Sr. (1935-37), George Able Sprague (1937-39), James Woodall Rodgers (1939-47), James Roland "Jimmie" Temple (1947-49), Wallace Hamilton Savage (1949-51), Jean Baptiste Adoue, Jr. (1951-53), Robert Lee Thornton (1953-61), Earle Cabell (1961-64), John Erik Jonsson (1964-71), Westley Arthur "Wes" Wise (1971-76), Adlene Nathanson Harrison (1976), Robert Skillern Folsom (1977-81), Jack Wilson Evans Sr. (1981-83), Austin Starke Taylor, Jr. (1983-87), Annette Greenfield Strauss (1987-91), Harry Stephen "Steve" Bartlett (1991-95), Ronald Kirk (1995-01), Mary Elizabeth Canada Poss (2001-02 interim), Laura Suzanne Miller (2002-2007 ), Tom Leppert (2007 - 2011), Dwaine Caraway (interim 2011), Mike Rawlings (2011 - present)

City Growth

The city of Dallas contains land in five counties (Dallas, Denton, Collin, Rockwall, Kaufman). Since 1856, Dallas has grown by annexing vacant land and incorporated and unincorporated communities.  Among these communities are East Dallas (1890), Oak Cliff (1903), Trinity Heights (1923), Lisbon (1929), Preston Hollow (1945), Honey Springs (1947), Rheinhardt (1948), West Dallas (1950), Pleasant Grove (1950s), Pleasant Mound (1950), Beckley Heights (1951), Eagle Ford (1951), Lake June (1952), Danieldale (1956), Arcadia Park (1958), Buckner Terrace (1960), Ledbetter Hill (1968), Frankford (1975), Rylie (1978), Kleburg (1978), Fruitdale (1954), Renner,  Piedmont, Urbandale/Parkdale, Sycene,  and Audelia (1981).


Vital Records

Dallas County is responsible for birth, death, marriage and divorce records.



Texas death certificates for 1903 through 1976 are available on Family Searchand at the Dallas Public Library on microfilm.


The marriage license index for 1846 through 1963 is available on microfilm at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library and at the Dallas County Records Building (2nd Floor, 509 Main St., Dallas, TX 75202 (Phone (214) 653-7099)).  All county marriage records are available at the Dallas County Records Building.  Texas marriages from 1964 through 2002 are available on Ancestry.com ($). Dallas County marriage information from 1974 through present is available on the new Dallas County Office of Public Records site.

Marriage Book O (1895-1896) available in the Dallas Genealogical Society website.



For information about cemeteries, refer to the Dallas County page where a complete list of cemeteries in the county is located. Early Dallas Undertakers and Funeral Homes in Dallas include George W. Loudermilk; P. W. Linskie; Ed. C. Smith; Chas. F. Weiland; James. E. Dunn; Palmer, O'Connor & Whisenant; E. J. Crawford; McGowan; and Peoples Undertaking.

Land, Location and Real Estate

Building Permits Archive

City of Dallas Building Inspector Record Books from 1905 - March 1970 are available in the Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library. The volumes contain handwritten records of building permits issued. Building permit records will give you a date of construction and any significant changes or additions. They may also give you the name of the architect or contractor responsible for the building. Permits were not required until 1925, but may have been issued earlier.

You may also wish to contact the City of Dallas, Building Inspection Division, Central Files--located in the Oak Cliff Municipal Center. The telephone number is (214) 948-4318. They have microfilm of some (but not all!) of the actual building permits.

The above information is excerpted from the Dallas Public Library publication RESEARCHING THE HISTORY OF A BUILDING on their web site.


Sam Street's 1900 Dallas County Map (Texas State Library and Archives)

Murphy & Bolanz Collection

The Murphy & Bolanz Company was an early Dallas real estate development firm which produced real estate maps of Dallas and surrounding communities. There are approximately 3500 maps in the collection. Covered are each block in Dallas and some of the surrounding suburban towns, including original townsite maps of most towns and communities in Dallas County. The Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library owns 10 volumes of the Murphy & Bolanz addition and block books containing detailed maps of Dallas and its surrounding suburbs from the 1880s to the 1920s and an index.

City Directories

Dallas city directories are available from 1875 through 1990 in print and/or microfilm versions at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library.  Digitized copies from 1878 through 1923 are available at Fold3.com ($), formerly Footnote.com.

Medicine in Dallas

The library website at UT Southwestern Medical Center has a page dedicated to the history of medicine. It includes links to (1) a collection of more than 500 images illustrating the history of medicine in Dallas, (2) 60 choice photos arranged in chronological order that provide a photographic history of medical highlights in Dallas, (3) a description of books dealing with medical history housed at the UT Southwestern library, (4) a link to a 1951 thesis written by Marie Louise Giles titled The Early History of Medicine in Dallas, 1841-1900, (5) information on a collection of historically important medical journals at the UT Southwestern library, (6) information of files with clippings on Dallas and Texas medical history at the UT Southwestern Library (7) and a link to the online Texas Physicians Historical Biographical Database developed by the staff at the UT Southwestern library.

Link to The Early History of Medicine in Dallas, 1841-1900
Link to UT Southwestern’s library’s History of Medicine website with old pictures and on-line physician database

Dallas Genealogical and Historical Organizations

Dallas Genealogical Society  Monthly meetings on the 1st Saturday of the month, except in the summer.  Meetings held at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas.  Other special events and lectures scheduled during the year.  DGS Blog, DGS Facebook Page.

Dallas Historical Society

Jane Douglas Chapter, NDAR, Dallas

Greater Dallas Chapter, NDAR, Dallas

General Levy Casey Chapter, NDAR, Dallas

Dallas Jewish Historical Society

Libraries and Archives

Dallas Public Library - Genealogy Department.  Located at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas, TX 75204.  214-670-1433.  Dallas Public Library named in “Top 10” for genealogy research by Family Tree Magazine.

Dallas Public Library - Texas/Dallas History Department. Located at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young Street, Dallas, TX 75204. 214-670-1435

Related Information

City of Dallas

Visitors and Convention Bureau

TXGenWeb site for the City of Dallas.  Unfortunately, this is no longer a good resource.  Virtually all of the links are broken.

Newspapers and Other Media

A number of newspapers have served the Dallas community since its founding.  Among these are The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Herald, Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Journal and Dallas Express.  Microfilm copies of these publications are availble at the Dallas Public Library. The Dallas Morning News for 1885 to 1975 is available online through the Dallas Public Library website to those living in Dallas with a library card.  It is also available to all online at the Dallas Public Library and its branches.