The Trinity River is where it all began.

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 years.

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 County.

John Denton was aide to General Tarrant and the only fatality among Tarrant's 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 Bird's Fort on the far north side of present-day Arlington. It was one of the earliest attempts at Anglo-American settlement in north Texas.

Indian raids and hardships led to the abandonment of Bird's 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 Bird's Fort. The Indian Chiefs from nine tribes signed the treaty. The Bird's 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 Bird's Fort joined John Neely Bryan to found Dallas in 1842.

Six years after Dallas was founded, Colonel Middleton Tate Johnson's 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 Johnson's 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. Lee's home in Virginia. The naming of the town has also been attributed to James Ditto, Sr., the first postmaster.

Arlington was officially accepted by the Postal Service on January 22, 1877.

Arlington History - The First 130 Years Continues.

Be sure to watch Part II - 1870 - 1900 "The First Rail Car Stops - A Town is Born"