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Headline for Sarah Horton Cockrell: A successful widow in the early development of Texas
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Sarah Horton Cockrell: A successful widow in the early development of Texas


COCKRELL, SARAH HORTON (1819–1892). Sarah Cockrell, businesswoman and entrepreneur of Dallas, daughter of Enoch and Martha Horton, was born in Virginia on January 13, 1819, and in 1844 moved to Texas with her parents and six brothers and sisters. After her marriage on September 9, 1847, to Alexander Cockrell, she lived in Dallas County until 1852, when Alexander purchased the remainder of the original headright containing the settlement of Dallas. After the family moved into the town, Cockrell started a construction business, established a sawmill and gristmill, and erected a building for rental to business firms. His wife, in addition to her homemaking duties, kept the records, managed the money, and handled the correspondence for the businesses. After Alexander's death in 1858, Sarah took over the family enterprises. In 1859 she opened the St. Nicholas Hotel under her own management. When it burned in the fire that destroyed most of Dallas in 1860, she opened the Dallas Hotel, which later became the St. Charles.

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In 1847, Sarah Horton Cockrell began married life in a tent on Mountain Creek Lake, a few miles west of the fledgling town of Dallas. Over the four decades that followed, she played a pivotal role in the young city's economic development.

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Dallas first grabbed the national imagination in 1936 when it hosted the Texas Centennial Exposition. Since then, the fascination with “Big D” has seldom flagged. If the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 cast a pall over the city, the success of the Dallas Cowboys and the popularity of the television series “Dallas” revived the image of a glitzy, hustling metropolis at the center of the Sunbelt.In this concise overview, Hazel examines the city's roots as a frontier market town, its development as a regional transportation center, and its growing pains as it entered the twentieth century. Ku Klux Klan dominance in the 1920s is chronicled, as well as the half-century of control by an elite group of businessmen. The narrative concludes with a look at today's city, struggling with issues of diversity.The author pays special attention to the role of ethnic groups in shaping Dallas: the French colonists of the 1850s; the German, Swiss, and Italian immigrants of the 1870s and 1880s; the Mexican Americans of the early twentieth century; and the Southeast Asians of recent decades. He also examines the role of African Americans, who came with the first Anglos and struggled for more than a century to gain equality. Dallas: A History of Big D is based on pioneer letters and reminiscences, as well as the research of recent years. Written in a popular style, it will appeal to scholars and general readers curious about how Dallas grew to become the nation's eighth largest city.


Carra, Is she one of your ancestors? You have so many prominent Texas people in your family. Whether she was your kin or not, certainly she was a remarkable woman.

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Sarah Horton Cockrell