Sarah Horton Cockrell was a prominent business woman in Dallas, Texas as well as a wife, mother and daughter. For over four decades she played a pivotal roll in the development of the young town.
She was born in Virginia to Enoch and Martha Horton on January 13, 1819. In her early twenties, she moved to Dallas and, with her family, was among the earliest pioneers to come to Dallas County in 1844. On September 9, 1847, Sarah married businessman, Alexander Cockrell. They lived in a tent on Mountain Creek until they were able to purchase a headright along the Trinity River, the last remaining townsite in Dallas, from John Neely Bryan.
Sarah and Alexander had many business ventures which included brickmaking, construction, real estate, operating a sawmill and running the Trinity River ferry service, a part of the Bryan acquisition. In 1855, she and her husband built a wooden bridge across the Trinity, but it collapsed due to flooding in 1858 after Alexander's death. Subsequently, she took over the family businesses with assistance from her son and son-in-law.
She continued to expand the business to establish her family as one of the more eminent in Dallas. Her enterprises spanned various industries including flour milling and multiple real estate ventures, and in 1870, Sarah formed the Dallas Bridge Company. It was at this time she constructed an iron suspension bridge over the Trinity River. This bridge is, perhaps, the most significant contribution to the development of Dallas.
In 1884, Sarah opened the Sarah Cockrell Addition, a private residential subdivision and the following year she constructed a three story office building. The First Methodist Church counts her as a founding member. Along with her sons, Sarah Cockrell owned an estimated twenty-five percent of downtown Dallas plus her other landholdings in Houston, Cleburne and Mineral Wells. She is often commended for being able to to profit in business, while maintaining the respect of society. When she died in 1892, her properties were so extensive that her will had to be published in pamphlet form.
Sarah Horton Cockrell will definitely be remembered as Dallas's first capitalist.
I wish all of you a very Happy Mother's Day.
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