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Along Came Dallas

  Dallas was settled in the 1840s on the north side of Rickreall Creek and was originally named "Cynthian" or "Cynthiana".  A 1947  Itemizer-Observer article states:


"[T]he town was called Cynthiana after Cynthiana, Ky., so named by Mrs. Thos. Lovelady." The History of Polk County Oregon, 1987, Page 12, states: "To Mrs. Thomas J. Lovelady was given the honor of naming the new settlement and she selected the name after her home town of Cynthiana, Kentucky." 


  Another source claims that the origin of the name may have been Jesse Applegate's wife, Cynthia Ann. However, she lived in the Salt Creek area of northern Polk County and, according to the 1850 Federal Census, had already left Polk County by 1850.


  Dallas post office was established in 1852. In 1856, the town was moved more than a mile south because of an inadequate supply of water.


  Dallas was in competition with  Independence to be the county seat and the citizens of Dallas raised $17,000 in order to have a branch of the narrow gauge railroad come to their town, thus securing the honor. The line was built from 1878–80.​ 


  A more suitable name for a county seat was needed, and since George Mifflin Dallas was vice-president under James K. Polk, for whom the county was named, "Dallas" was a natural choice.


  Dallas was incorporated as a town in 1874, and as a city in 1901.


The purpose for which the Polk County Historical Society is organized shall be:

  • to encourage the study, knowledge, and understanding of the history of Polk County, Oregon;

  • to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret objects and publish information relating to the history of Polk County;

  • to acquire, exhibit, and interpret the material culture of Polk County;

  • to operate and maintain a historical museum or museums in Polk County.





​The Dallas Public Library has over 70,000 items. Library patrons have access to approximately one million items through the Chemeketa Cooperative Regional Library Service, comprised of 17 libraries located in Polk, Marion, and Yamhill counties. Our collection includes a special section dedicated to books and pamphlets about Dallas, Polk County, and Oregon. The library also has local genealogy resources such as newspapers and census information dating back to the 1860s.

Suzie Hunter-Rohde grew up in Dallas, as did her father, Delbert Hunter. The many stories he recounted influenced Rohde’s love for local history, continuing today through her work at the Polk County Museum. Working together with coauthor Debra Lea Meaghers, a longtime area resident and writer, they weave a visual story of this remarkably resilient community using images from the museum, the author’s collection, and other private sources.

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