Pocket Full of Stones: Dating back somewhere between 500 and 5,000 years, this pendant, knife, and groundstone are counterarguments to the idea that “Dallas came from nothing.” (Rachel Burger) Rachel Burger

History

Did Dallas Really ‘Come From Nothing’?

Here's how one paragraph in a book by a St. Louis professor led to a feature in D Magazine’s January issue.

This is a thank-you to Edward McPherson, an assistant professor of English at Washington University, in St. Louis. Earlier this year, he published a collection of essays titled The History of the Future: American Essays. McPherson is a gifted writer. I recommend the book. The editors at the Dallas Morning News share my enthusiasm, evident by their decision to reprint a few of the essays that deal with Dallas. In May, one such reprint contained the following paragraph:

Dallas came from nothing. Unlike surrounding areas, it was not a camp for Native Americans or prehistoric men. Dig and you find few artifacts. The Trinity River formed a boundary for ancient tribes: farmers to the east and hunters to the west. The Trinity is a true Texan; it begins and ends within the state. Its 710-mile path slices through what is now downtown Dallas, making Dallas a city on the cusp, on the boundary, in between. It wavers between being and not being. Dallas wasn’t there until — suddenly — it was, called forth in the minds of white men.

That paragraph is what I’d like to thank McPherson for. Because D Magazine contributor Laray Polk read it, and it set her off. She knew McPherson was wrong about Dallas’ prehistory. So she wrote a rebuttal for FrontBurner — which then started a chain of events that led to a full-blown feature story in the December issue. Without giving too much away, the story involves a long-lost map, a woman named Sunday, and SMU. I’ll let Laray take it from there.

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