History of Cedar Hill, Texas


The area, now known as Cedar Hill, in its mostly undeveloped stage

Situated in both Dallas and Ellis counties in Texas, Cedar Hill is a city also located along Joe Pool Lake’s eastern shore and Cedar Hill State Park. Cedar Hill is a growing and vibrant southwest Dallas suburb which offers ample opportunities for business and economy as well as a pleasant place amenable for family living and relaxation.

Cedar Hill used had an underwater terrain, which left an abundance of fossils, mother of pearls, as well as shark’s teeth lodged into the limestones that ran along the edge of the area.

The area was lushly covered area which was actually a haven for criminals. For folks from as far as Oklahoma, the place of what is now known as Cedar Hill provided them with cedar trees (hence the name) which they converted into fencing posts.

Long before 1835, there was not any sign of civilized humans in the Trinity River Valley before the arrival of the Texas Rangers. In 1840, Texas broke from Mexican rule and became an independent republic. From Austin, there emerged a northward road that was in construction, very much following the similar path of the future I-35.

Several different Native American (or American Indian) tribes came to live in the area. It was mostly temporary, as they would stay in the area only throughout the winter season. Eventually, a battle took place between the two particular tribes near the current High Pointe neighborhood, leaving several Indian artifacts on the expanse of the area of what is known as Cedar Hill.


Cedar Hill’s early settlers, and its growth as a townHistory of Cedar Hill, Texas

Advertisements about Texas posted in Kentucky, Alabama and other nearby states are what drove people to come and settle in North Texas, which was billed as the “France of the New World.” In 1844, pioneers permeated into the area what is known now as Peters Colony, with hundreds of families and single mean making the region their permanent settlement, with Cedar Hill being the second biggest one in the area.

More new settlers seeking to build new lives arrived in Dallas on the Trinity River before they journeyed into the south on a trail that ran through Hord’s Ridge which is the present-day Oak Cliff.

In 1845 Dallas County became a part of Robertson County. One of the most notable early settlers in Cedar Hill was Crawford Trees, whose marriage in 1846 was the very first one registered in the Dallas County. Trees profited very much from the California Gold Rush so he used the money to purchase several thousand acres of land in Cedar Hill. He also took part in the battle during the Civil War.

Another early settler, Arthur Penn, was attracted by the place when he first visited there with Trees. So Penn came back, married and raised a family, and built a home on the edge of the prairie. A rancher, he sent his cattle to graze at the mountains which were lush with cedar trees. Penn also used the bottomland of the mountain creek for farming. Like Trees, Penn also took part on the Civil War.

Cedar Hill opened its first post office in 1852, and this was followed by a school building which accommodated only sixteen students. Penn also hired a schoolteacher and built a cabin around his property. Major Penn’s cabin still exists insidea a barn at Penn Farm, and is very much preserved as a historical site.

The town lay along a branch of the Chisholm Trail and served as a temporary seat of the Dallas County.


The tornado in 1856; Cedar Hill rising from the tragedy

In 1856 a violent tornado swept through the thriving town, with a total of nine people perished from the disaster and several properties — including the post office, blacksmith shop, and mercantile — being demolished by the tornado. Only one house and one business establishment remained unscathed. More than 300 people from the surrounding communities gave a helping hand to rebuild Cedar Hill. The town rose again to become a trade and shipping hub.

Cedar Hill is still “visited” by tornadoes every now and then.

Railroad boon

Like many American towns during the early years, Cedar Hill also benefited from the railroads that were built through the area, as well as nearby towns Duncanville and Midlothian. In 1880 the Cedar Hill Institute for Girls was opened. The 1890s provided a new face for Cedar Hill as a farming community, with emphasis on cotton gin industry; in 1892 Cedar Hill’s directory listed a couple of druggists, two confectioners, two blacksmiths, and a barber who entered the town to do business there.


Cedar Hill in the 20th century – improvements in electricity, communication, farming industry and law enforcement

Cedar Hill water tower

Cedar Hill prospered further at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1920 electricity came to serve the homes and business establishments in Cedar Hill. The fascinating thing there is that the electric plant would send a warning “blink” to its customers at exactly 10:30 pm before shutting the services down completely at 11 pm. As you may expect, not many people did not get to enjoy the benefits of electricity and many of them still did cooking on woodfire. Many farms didn’t have any electricity until the Second World War.

As isolated as it was once, Cedar Hill used to have only one telephone, and that was situated at Well’s General Store at the northwest corner of Cedar and Main Sts, with a phone exchanged established inside a house. Despite the fast-paced technology that allows present-day Cedar Hill residents to connect with the outside world, the house still currenty stands at the southeast corner of Main and Belt Line streets, and is almost perfectly preserved.

Formerly a cotton gin hub, by the 1940s Cedar Hill emphasis had shifted to dairy and cattle.

A member of the notorious Barrow Gang member Raymond Hamilton also happened to be resident of Cedar Hill. Surely, he terrorized the city by robbing the First State Bank, where he took the money (though he discovered that he wasn’t unable to take all of them) and locked the employees inside the huge vault. The bank, which was robbed once again, eventually became insolvent and closed down.

To restore and enforce lawfulness in the city, Dallas County hired local citizens to become deputy sheriffs, and continued to do so until the mid-20th century when the city began to select eligible people to become official lawmen.


Antenna grouping in Cedar Hill
Antenna grouping in Cedar Hill


Joe Pool Lake from the east shore


Cedar Hill today

Like other cities and suburbs, Cedar Hill grew progressively. The city boasts several retail outlets (and there are so much more retail outlets actually), as well as restaurants and bars, and its upscale shopping and lifestyle hub Uptown Village which opened in 2008. As of 2010 census, the city’s population is numbered at 45,028. Cedar Hill is definitely different today than it was many centuries ago, but it still maintains some of the wholesome qualities and its homespun, folksy charm. It may be about 30 minutes away from Dallas and Fort Worth, but Cedar Hill’s natural beauty — as mostly exemplified by the Cedar Hill State Park — is definitely a world away.