Looking for the answer to a historical puzzle.
February 26, 2007 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Who is Allen Dale and where is Dales?

A while ago, I posted a similar question. I promised to find the original quote in order to help get a more accurate answer. I can't find that letter, but found an earlier one with a similar reference:

"Now Sir as I have just returned from the West a fiew days ago Ill say something of that country I traveled through-----Allen Dales County to the Town of Dales...

"Dales is quite a fast place a citty of 10 or 12 thousand in habitents on the Mo Kansas & Texas Railroad The road also runs from there to Galveston one of our best cotton markets on the coast other roads running from there to other portions of the stait.."

Some back story. This letter was written by the grandson of one of the original pioneers of Texas, who came to Titus Co. in 1841. The family lived in the same place continuously from that time on. There was an Allendale, TX, but it was founded after this letter was written in 1873. It is not west of Titus Co., but Dallas is. Is "Allen Dales County" Dallas County? If so, who or what is Allen Dale? I have at least two letters that refer to it/him.
posted by clarkstonian to Writing & Language (13 answers total)
This Dale, TX (found using Google) seems like the best match (right time period, on the railroad(?if the railroad extended that far at the time)) but it was definitely a lot smaller then the letter suggests. It also wasn't in "Dale County".

Dallas would seem like a pretty poor match and was always, as far as I know, called Dallas.
posted by anaelith at 6:09 AM on February 26, 2007

If it helps, the population of Dallas was 10,385 in 1880. Also, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad did run from Kansas City through Dallas down to Galveston.

This does suggest that Dallas is a likely answer, since 10,000 was quite a sizable city for Texas back then . At the time (1880 Census) the largest cities in Texas were Galveston and San Antonio, each with a little over 20,000.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:18 AM on February 26, 2007

Should have previewed... I don't think we can count on the author's spelling (Dales vs. Dalles). After all, he also wrote "citty," "stait," etc.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:23 AM on February 26, 2007

Thrown in for completeness: there's an Allendale in Houston, according to Google.
posted by Leon at 6:24 AM on February 26, 2007

Also, considering how non-standard spelling was at that time (see: stait), I think Robert Angelo is right -- it's almost certainly the city of Dallas he's talking about. Don't know about the county (although Big D is within Dallas County) but I'd be pretty confident he is talking about Dallas the city.
posted by katemonster at 6:25 AM on February 26, 2007

Oh, and of the 5 major candidates for whom Dallas might have been named, not a one has a name like Allan.
posted by katemonster at 6:27 AM on February 26, 2007

To further confuse things, the town of Allen is a suburb of Dallas in Collin County.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:28 AM on February 26, 2007

Interesting point, Robert Angelo. Could he have meant "Allen, Dallas County"? The consistency of spelling suggests he meant Dallas in both cases, and the city, county pattern is pretty commonly used to refer to smaller towns and unincorporated areas.
posted by katemonster at 6:33 AM on February 26, 2007

This sounds like one of the many things where a librarian will be better at helping you than Google. I'd try the Texas/Dallas History and Archives at the Dallas Public Library.
posted by MsMolly at 6:40 AM on February 26, 2007

Since there seems to be virtually no punctuation in the rest of the cited material, I'm going to bet that Robert Angelo and katemonster have it.

Note that he says he's talking about the country he travelled through---he went from Allen, Dallas County, to the Town of Dallas. Also, Dallas is phonetically [dæ.ləs], at least in my (bizarre, Southern- and Canadian-inflected, heavily-Pittsburgh-influenced, southeast Michigan) dialect, so "Dales" doesn't seem that odd a spelling for it. . .
posted by librarycat at 7:23 AM on February 26, 2007

This 1877 map of the MKT (Katy) Railroad shows that it enters TX from the north at Denison, crosses through Dallas, and continues on to Galveston. Allen TX is between Dallas and Denison, but it's in Collin County and I'm not sure how long either name has been in existence. My grandfather worked for the MKT in Dallas and Denison.
posted by mattbucher at 7:51 AM on February 26, 2007

Response by poster: That makes sense, librarycat - the spelling (even of their own names) in these letters was creative.

I was confused, because the other letter wasn't Texas-specific, they came from S. Carolina, & there's an Allendale in S.C. I'm trying to map their travels, but this one had me stumped. I kept trying to make Allendale, TX fit, but it didn't. I'd never heard of Allen Dale (referred to as Mr. Allen Dale's city in the other letter) and wondered if it was some kind of personal or just archaic reference. Looked on the map & thought, hm - Dallas is west of Titus Co.. Dal-es makes a lot more sense than Dales.

I will try the Texas/Dallas History & Archives & see what they have to say.

Thanks for the help!
posted by clarkstonian at 7:53 AM on February 26, 2007

Also there is an Allen, Oklahoma and a Dallas County in Arkansas (but I don't think the MKT went through Arkansas).
posted by mattbucher at 8:17 AM on February 26, 2007

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