Bluff Dale History
The Native American Indians made the Paluxy Valley their home for years, possibly centuries, before the white men came with their plows and fences. Two tribes which early settlers erroneously called Comanches, the Caddos and the Anadarkos, were the tribes prevalent to the area of present day Bluff Dale. These two peaceful tribes fought along side the Texas Rangers to keep the Comanches at bay. By 1860 the peaceful Caddos and Anadarkos had been moved from Texas to Oklahoma. The War Between the States (Civil War), Indian attacks, and raids by outlaw bands caused a decrease in settlers to the Paluxy Valley until about 1873. The Comanches were also finally removed from the valley about this time.
Most of the early settlers were recent arrivals from the ravaged southern states of the War Between the States, wanting a new start. These new settlers were drawn to our area because of the many artesian springs and the Paluxy River, numerous valleys that dropped and rolled into heavily wooded plains, open prairies, and fertile bottom lands. The Paluxy Valley was an ideal setting for the pioneers because the hills offered them unusually opportunities for raising livestock and dairy farming. In addition to livestock the pioneers raised poultry, grew feed crops for their live stock as well as crops of cotton and peanuts. The settlers constructed fences of logs and rock. Today remnants of those old rock fences can still be seen in places.
The town grew and was called Bluff Springs because of the numerous bluffs and springs in the area. Teams of oxen hauled in goods from Waco. Around 1877, the Chedester Overland Mail began a daily route from Fort Worth, Texas to Fort Yuma, Arizona. It made stops in Bluff Springs, but the United States government refused to officially recognize the town because of another Bluff Springs already established in Texas. Captain Wesley Freeman, the town"s first postmaster, organized a town meeting for the purpose of selecting a proper town name. He told the people that “dale” meant a smooth place between two bluffs, which led him to suggest the name Bluff Dale. It was agreed that Bluff Dale would be the town"s new name.
The first person born in Bluff Dale was Mrs. M.H. Logan. In 1870, Dr. H.O. Holt started practicing medicine and opened a drug store. During latter part of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, Bluff Dale was the hub for cotton farmers, cattlemen and railroad transportation. There was a hotel, livery stable, a furniture store, a dry goods store, grocery stores, a meat market, a barber shop, Warnock"s Hardware store, two cotton gins and a depot. There were four passenger trains each twenty-four hours, two going east and two going west. People could board a train in Bluff Dale and go anywhere they wanted. There were several freight trains. Cattle pens were located on the north side of the railroad. Cowboys drove cattle from the ranches and penned them until the train could pick them up.
An old log house was the setting for the first Bluff Dale “subscription" school. Lum Stephens was the first teacher. In 1880 a box stripped house was built and in 1900 a new building was constructed on the site of the present school. The two first graduated of the school were Mr. Ralph Glenn and Miss Alice Holt Parker. In the spring of 1927 lightning struck the school injuring several students and causing structural damage to the school. A new building was occupied in 1930. In 1999 this building was torn down and the building that we have today was built.
The pioneers who settled our countryside and made it self-sustaining were strong men and women, capable of protecting themselves from frequent and troublesome Indian raids, clearing the land, and creating a place to grow their crops and their families. Bluff Dale has suffered through droughts, two world wars, floods and other disasters, but the people who call it home would not live anywhere else. As one old pioneer said when she went to West Texas to visit, “I don’t like it here. It’s too far.” When asked what it was too far from she replied, “Bluff Dale.”
The pioneer spirit of these brave people is still seen in many of the remaining ancestors of Bluff Dale’s settling pioneers. This pioneer spirit is also seen in the new people who come to Bluff Dale seeking to create a better life for their families. Whichever group of people you find yourself in our town, new or old; let all of US not forget…the future of our town is what WE make of it.