Shutterstock

Humor

How Dallas Really Got Its Name

Alas, we have solved a mystery.

How did Dallas come to be called Dallas? historians have been vexed by the question for many years. John Neely Bryan, the city’s first White resident, claimed he named it after his friend Dallas but never provided that friend’s first name. And, anyway, Bryan was a touch insane when he said this.

Now new technology has finally brought us the answer. It is being revealed here for the first time.

Two early settlers stood around on the marsh, looking at the Trinity River. Mick O’Leary said to Pierre Le Boueffe, “Alas, there are no bridges, no shelter from the incessant heat, no real natural features to recommend it, but we have guns, which is always a good starting point. Alas, though, we have little else, not even a name.”

Le Boueffe said, “You are right, Mick. Alas, there is little here worth stopping for. But if someone were to build a railway, it could become a trading post for the nearby cotton. Alas, we have no railway yet. Only ragtag settlers from Spain and some Native Americans, who seem to be leaving in any case. Alas, we have no decent bridge, no railways, and not even a name. We could have a trading post and, with that, gambling and prostitutes. Then we might have a town. But, alas, nothing yet. Perhaps we should start with giving it a name?”

O’Leary said, “Alas, you are right. Like in that U2 song to be later written by my countrymen: a town with no name! And I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Alas.”

Le Boueffe said, “You’re thinking of calling it Alas?” O’Leary said, “No, I was just saying ‘alas,’ because that’s what you say when there are no prostitutes or gambling yet but you’re weighing up the pros and cons of making a trading post, if and when the railways come. But, alas—”

“Alas,” said Le Boueffe, lost in a slight language misunderstanding. “It has a good ring to it. We should call the place Alas, for that is where we are right now. Pondering imponderables and that which isn’t here yet. We should call the place Alas.”

O’Leary said, “Pierre, you twit. That’s a terrible name. That would be like me being called Leary, which would make me sound like a bit of a tosser. Hence O’Leary, which sounds way classier.”

Le Boueffe said, “I see where you’re going with this. We need an extra letter in front. How about O’Alas or McAlas? We can’t call it Fort Alas, because there’s no fort.”

O’Leary said, “Your English is terrible, Pierre. O’Alas doesn’t sound right at all. McAlas sounds better, but that would make it seem like the Scots named the place, and we were here first. I think we need a better letter. How about Balas or Falas?”

Le Boueffe said, “You can’t call it Falas. That sounds like a certain Greek word for a baguette de chambre, if you catch my meaning. Non, I say we go with the Spanish or French and call it Di Alas or D’Alas.”

O’Leary said, “You’ve got it! D’Alas! Of Alas! The Alas. Henceforth it will be known as the Big Alas or the Big D. One of the two. We could even build a hotel and call it D’Alas. It would sound classy, and Fort Worth will be really jealous since they have barely a cattle shed, let alone a hotel or a decent bordello.”

So it came to pass that Dalas was born, later to be given a second “l” to make it classier still. And now the city has two Calatrava bridges, one of which actually works, and an eponymous Los Angeles-class nuclear- powered attack submarine that was featured in the Sean Connery movie The Hunt for Red October. God rest his soul.


Write to [email protected].

Newsletter

Get a weekly recap in your inbox every Sunday of our best stories from the week plus a primer for the days ahead.

Find It

Search our directories for...

Restaurants

Restaurants

Bars

Bars

Events

Events

Attractions

Attractions

View All

View All

Comments