The presence of the river, its several tributaries, and
the varied natural environment was inviting to the various
populations that have inhabited the area for thousands of
Human activity in the Trinity River basin is reported to
date to the Stone Age. Records indicate a 17th century
expedition of the Frenchman LaSalle probably brought the
first Europeans into the Trinity River basin. But, it was
the 1838 expedition led by Robert Sloan and Nathaniel T.
Journey into present day Euless and Arlington that was
recorded as one of the first Anglo-American efforts to open
the area to settlement.
Prior to actual settlement in the Arlington area, one of
the largest Native American enclaves in the region had been
established along Village Creek, now called Caddo Creek,
located on the western edge of present-day Arlington.
There were a series of Indian villages on either side of
the creek, which extended seven miles southward from the
Trinity River. The 1841 Battle of Village Creek was
considered a victory at that time, even though it cost the
lives of many Indians. This campaign was led by General
Edward H. Tarrant. He later became the namesake of Tarrant
John Denton was aide to General Tarrant and the only
fatality among Tarrantís men. Denton County was named for
him. The battle had a great effect on the Indians of Village
Creek, most of whom left the Arlington area. The same year,
Captain Jonathan Bird established Birdís Fort on the far
north side of present-day Arlington. It was one of the
earliest attempts at Anglo-American settlement in north
Indian raids and hardships led to the abandonment of
Birdís Fort after a short time. On September 29, 1843,
several Indian Tribes signed a treaty of peace and
friendship with the Republic of Texas at Birdís Fort. The
Indian Chiefs from nine tribes signed the treaty. The Birdís
Fort Treaty opened the door to settlement in the entire
region. The first trading post authorized by the treaty was
at Marrow Bone Spring, and settlers from Birdís Fort joined
John Neely Bryan to found Dallas in 1842.
Six years after Dallas was founded, Colonel Middleton
Tate Johnsonís Company of Texas Rangers was assigned to
Kaufman Station, later named the Marrow Bone Spring Post.
There, Colonel Johnson decided to settle here permanently.
The land he had been granted when he immigrated to Texas was
located nearby. The station soon became known as Johnsonís
Station as did the community that grew around it.
Colonel Johnson established a gristmill, sorghum mill,
blacksmith shop, slave quarters and a general merchandise
store. He also built a large four-section barn. The Star
Mail Route and Truck Stage Coach line passed through Johnson
Station, connecting it with other major stage routes.
Johnson Creek, a major tributary of the Trinity River, was
named for Colonel Johnson.
Prior to coming to the Johnson Station area, and before
becoming a Texas Ranger, Johnson served in the ninth and
last Congress of the Republic of Texas. During his term, he
took an active role in the Texas land policy, which
established the Homestead Act, the location of the capital
in Austin, and the annexation of Texas in the United States.
After statehood, he had aspirations of being Governor and
bringing the railroad to Texas, but he was not able to
accomplish that objective. Colonel Johnson died on May 12,
1866, ten years before the railroad finally arrived. His
body lay in state in the Capital building in Austin, where
he had been elected to the first Constitutional Convention
of the State, for Reconstruction, just a few months earlier.
He was buried in the State Cemetery, but in 1870, his family
moved his body to the family cemetery located in south
Arlington on Arkansas Lane. His likeness was engraved on the
first official seal of Tarrant County and he is remembered
as the father of Tarrant County.
Patrick A. Watson and a group of settlers arrived here in
1853 and settled on land that now borders the present Watson
Road. In 1869, the Reverend Andrew Shannon Hayter arrived in
this community, and in 1870, he organized the Good Hope
Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
The Rev. Hayter was also a land surveyor and was serving
in that capacity when the Texas and Pacific Railway Company
came through the area in 1876 and purchased the land for the
original town site. The event was set into motion in 1871
when the United States Congress approved a charter for a
transcontinental railroad, which included Texas. Because of
his valuable assistance in directing the rail line through
the most peaceable route, the engineers wanted to name the
station Hayterville. The Rev. Hayter declined with the
objection that his name was not usually pronounced
correctly. They then gave him the privilege of choosing a
name, and he named the town site Arlington in honor of
General Robert E. Leeís home in Virginia. The naming of the
town has also been attributed to James Ditto, Sr., the first
Arlington was officially accepted by the Postal Service
on January 22, 1877.
Arlington History Ė The First 130 Years Continues.