No, Jefferson Boulevard and Davis Street are not named for the confederacy

The 1936 bronzes of Robert E. Lee and his guide at Lee Park in Dallas. Photo by Scott Dorn

A few things in Oak Cliff bear the names of Confederates.

One is Kidd Springs Park. The park is named for James W. Kidd, a colonel in the Confederate army who in 1870 purchased 200 acres surrounding what is now Kidd Springs Park.

Another is Reagan Elementary School. It’s named for John H. Reagan, who served as postmaster general under Confederate president Jefferson Davis. After the war, Reagan was imprisoned in Boston, and he renounced the Confederate states. Reagan, who had stepped down from the United States Senate before Texas seceded, wrote an open letter to Texans from prison calling for an end to slavery and allowing freed slaves to vote.

Two things not named for a Confederate are our neighborhood’s parallel drags: Jefferson Boulevard and Davis Street.

According to “The WPA Dallas Guide and History,” which is available online through the University of North Texas Digital Library, Jefferson is named for U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, and Davis is named for an Oak Cliff landowner and developer, A.E. Davis.

By |2017-09-08T10:44:13-05:00September 8th, 2017|News|39 Comments

About the Author:

Rachel Stone is the Oak Cliff editor. Email rstone@advocatemag.com or follow twitter.com/advocate_oc.                                     


  1. GeneP54 September 25, 2017 at 12:56 PM

    Of course it’s mentioned. It’s mentioned in almost all of the secession letters. But do you know WHY it’s mentioned? Do you know the history that made that cause the one that was named? No? Have you read them? Have you studied the economics, the taxation and tariffs, the other reasons WHY so many felt that leaving the Union was necessary? I see that you haven’t. I can always tell that someone hasn’t studied the events leading up to those letters when they pick and choose one word to give as a ‘reason’. So, yea, unless you know that background, I’ll question your education about it. See, if you HAD that education, you’d understand enough to not make such a claim.
    You do realize that owning slaves was a Constitutional right, and that only a Constitutional amendment could change that, right? That’s why the 13th Amendment is so important.
    Here’s a hint… start with the secession letter of Georgia. It doesn’t go into all of it, but it’ll give you a hint that it wasn’t just about slavery. I’m sure that you won’t. You just admitted that you disregard history.

  2. Austen Brown September 25, 2017 at 8:02 AM

    Its funny how you’ll impugn someone’s education when you’re denying history.
    Alexander Stephens, vice president of the CSA, cornerstone speech. Or you can peruse the state constitutions, ratified under the CSA, start with Texas, and you’ll find that slavery is mentioned as a,reason for secession in most if not all of them.
    But I disregard history though, right.

  3. Austen Brown September 25, 2017 at 7:58 AM

    Yeah, that’s my point.
    You can’t try and deny that the “cornerstone speech” in which the vice president of the confederacy declare that the corner stone of the confederacy was that black people were subordinate and rightfully subjugated by white people.
    You can’t change that.
    What we can change is who we honor today, whether we honor them with statues or street names.

  4. GeneP54 September 24, 2017 at 12:59 PM

    Great! Thanks! I love learning this kind of thing!

  5. GeneP54 September 24, 2017 at 12:58 PM

    Thanks. And thank you for doing the same!

    It’s amazing to me that so many people who argue so strongly have no more education about this than what they’ve been taught in high school…which was wrong. Then when you present them with facts, they attack you, like you’re the one who did it. lol

  6. GeneP54 September 24, 2017 at 12:56 PM

    If you think that the purpose of ‘supporting slavery’ was about subordination, then you have no knowledge at all about any of this.
    The Constitution supported the right to own slaves. They were considered property. It was never about subordination and most every Southerner knew and agreed with that. That’s why so many, like Lee, said that it was morally and socially wrong….but they were property and were owned as property.
    Is someone selling their family member into slavery respectful? See, the ideas of ‘respect’ were different back then, even different between the North and South. But don’t let facts stand in the way of good ignorance and bias based on that ignorance. You can’t look at that era with 21st Century eyes, and that’s what’s happening (partly).

  7. Jane Bryant September 24, 2017 at 9:49 AM

    You can’t change history and you can’t twist history to serve your agenda or perspective 150 years after the fact.

  8. Jane Bryant September 24, 2017 at 9:47 AM

    Yes GeneP54. Thank you, and I appreciate your trying to have a fact based discussion rather than a hysterical commentary which distorts history.

  9. Carlos September 24, 2017 at 3:24 AM

    Some claim that Confederate Major Alexander C Lemmon is the source for the name.
    More well-read people would know that it is actually named for his son, William C Lemmon.
    Read about it in:
    A History of Greater Dallas and Vicinity,
    By Philip Lindsley, Luther B. Hill, editor,
    Chicago, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1909,
    Volume 2, pp 20-22

    One link I found for a Google books page showing a modern reproduction printing of the text:

  10. GeneP54 September 23, 2017 at 3:00 AM

    lol So you won’t do a simple search. Must be fear. Got it. lol

  11. grannybunny September 23, 2017 at 12:18 AM

    No need to wait. Stay in your alternative reality, with your unique value system. Just don’t be surprised by the rest of us moving on.

  12. GeneP54 September 22, 2017 at 11:55 PM

    Go to any search engine and type in ‘Lincoln colonization’ and let me know what you find. See if he sent blacks to Haiti where they died horrible deaths from smallpox and starvation, and only stopped because of public outcry. See if he then looked to Liberia. See if he said that freed slaves should be deported once they were freed. I can show you where every word of that is true!
    I never said that RL Thornton engaged in treason, but Lincoln did by usurping the Constitution. Read about it. It’s very interesting.
    No one committed treason against the US by seceding from the Union. The northern stated wanted to secede back earlier in the 1800’s, but no one says anything about that being treason. In all fairness, most people don’t even know it. Even Lincoln said that the states had a right to leave the Union. He didn’t want to lose the taxes and tariffs. Again, read about it. Look at the quotes that I provided. Is Lincoln’s word not good enough for you?
    This whole statue thing is supposed to be about slavery and people being offended by black oppression. That was my statement about RL Thornton. If you think that RL Thornton being a member of the KKK while he was mayor of Dallas was productive, but you don’t think that Robert E. Lee contributed positively to society, then either you can’t read, you choose not to read, or you choose to ignore the truth, and I can’t help you with any of those.
    This taking down statues and renaming streets, etc. is foolish. A waste of time, energy, and resources. Either change them all or don’t change any of them. To only change a token few still leaves too many for people to be offended by. If they can tolerate being offended by a few of them, then they can tolerate being offended by all of them. All or none. That money could be better spent on schools, the homeless, taking care of veterans, replenishing the fire and police pension fund, repairing the streets, or a million other things that NEED to be done, but have been neglected because Dallas ‘doesn’t have the funds’.
    And, while we’re at it, is one person’s history more important than another person’s history? Why is one group of people being offended more important than another group being offended? If you want to be fair about this, push for more statues showing black history or plaques explaining the whole story, but make sure that it’s the WHOLE story, and the truth.
    There is no misrepresentation on my part, only misinterpretation on your part, or willful ignorance. If you can find one thing that I’ve said that is historically inaccurate, I’ll concede.
    I’ll wait…………………..

  13. grannybunny September 22, 2017 at 7:30 PM

    Lincoln, and R. L. Thornton did not engage in treason against the United States of America. To the contrary, Lincoln saved the Union, and — notwithstanding your misrepresentations — did not spend his entire adult life advocating White supremacy. Lincoln — and others whom you are attempting to falsely equivalate with those whose main legacies were their failed attempts to perpetuate slavery — made major POSITIVE contributions to society, for which they are, rightly, honored.

  14. Austen Brown September 22, 2017 at 7:25 PM

    I think you missed my meaning.

    Having roads, schools and statues that overtly, or in this case covertly, memorialize and honor people who fought for a country, the confederacy, whose ostensible corner stone was that blacks are subordinate to and lower beings than whites… Is that respectful?

  15. GeneP54 September 22, 2017 at 1:31 PM

    Do you know where I can get a copy of this documentation? Thanks.

  16. GeneP54 September 22, 2017 at 1:30 PM

    General Grant owned slaves all through the war. His wife owned four, herself, one that traveled with her everywhere. Where is your outrage about that?

  17. GeneP54 September 22, 2017 at 1:27 PM

    That’s all that you have to say in response to my comment? lol Ok.
    And American soldiers actively killed innocent CITIZENS. They also stole from, burned, and destroyed the property of innocents who were no threat to them at all, often raping the women, children, and slaves while they did it. When Lincoln was asked to give an order to stop this behavior from Union soldiers in the South, esp. in New Orleans where an official order was given that all women were considered prostitutes for the Union army’s pleasure, he ignored the request.
    Lee was a United States Colonel and never wanted to join the Confederacy. The only reason that he did was because he had such strong Virginian pride that when they seceded, he resigned his US commission and joined the Virginia forces, which soon became the Confederate forces. (You know, like so many did when Texas went to war…they dropped everything to defend Texas (or is that different?)).
    Yea, in war people kill soldiers of the opposing army….but not citizens unless it can’t be helped. You need to come up with a stronger argument to detest one of the most respected men in United States history, notwithstanding the War Between the States.

  18. Justin C September 22, 2017 at 11:06 AM

    Lee actively killed American soldiers.

  19. GeneP54 September 21, 2017 at 11:45 PM

    lol Thank you for proving my point. The direct quote from Lee is: “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any country.”
    Lincoln said:
    “My policy sought ONLY to collect the Revenue (a 40 percent federal sales tax on imports to Southern States under the Morrill Tariff Act of 1861).” reads paragraph 5 of Lincoln’s First Message to the U.S. Congress, penned July 4, 1861. (speaking of the war)
    “I have no purpose, directly or in-directly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so,” Lincoln said it his first inaugural on March 4 of the same year.
    Did you know that at the time of the war, the South was carrying over 80% of the tariffs and taxes used as income to the US? But they weren’t receiving protection from the federal govt. I encourage you to go back to the Morrill Tariff Act and read about it and how it affected the South and imports.
    And that is just ONE aspect of the cause of the war.
    I’m sure that you won’t bother. It’s too easy to just believe the lies that you’ve been taught and to tout your self-righteous indignation at the truth.
    If you can find anything at all to disagree with me (that is historically correct), I will bow to your vast knowledge about it.
    Now, what do you think that we should do about Dallas, founded by a Confederate solider, or RLThornton freeway, named after a mayor that was also a leader in the KKK, or any of the other things that ‘represent’ miseducation? Will you just as adamantly defend getting rid of everything Lincoln since he worked his entire adult life to deport all blacks, calling them ‘inferior’ and unable to coexist with whites? I’ll wait for your suggestions.

  20. grannybunny September 21, 2017 at 8:52 PM

    Oh, please. Lee was a traitor who led the fight to preserve slavery. People no longer want so-called Confederate heroes occupying places of honor.

  21. Beverly Walker September 21, 2017 at 2:50 PM

    Was Hampton Road named after General Wade Hampton? Will there ever be enough name changes?

  22. GeneP54 September 21, 2017 at 2:19 AM

    I think Jane is in agreement with you. She’s saying that it’s sad to have to live to accommodate optics instead of facing reality. (I think).

  23. GeneP54 September 21, 2017 at 2:16 AM

    No, you didn’t, but your comment inferred that because he owned slaves, then then name should be changed. My comment was to point out that if we change one thing, then the next thing you know, there will be excuses to change everything. Not much in history is clean and beautiful without being planted in some dirt.
    So my question is, ‘change everything’? Where does it stop?

  24. Tony Hammontree September 20, 2017 at 3:08 PM

    The article and title reads that Thomas Jefferson wasn’t apart of the confederacy, as if that’s a heroic title. I imagine that this was a reaction of hearing people saying he was. In my opinion, this is a strange and weird thing to write an article about since he owned a slaves, a non-heroic position to take. Especially since he was against them. – I didn’t mention anything about what you said.

  25. GeneP54 September 20, 2017 at 2:21 PM

    Most of the people who are demanding that these statues be taken down and names changed have never read anything more
    than a high school textbook, and probably not even that, but they’ll
    argue you down about the ‘facts’. I study this almost every day. If
    someone wants to have this conversation, please….let’s have it.

    A good example of misinformation is about Robert E. Lee. He was not pro-slavery at all and never represented anything pro-slavery. He called slavery ‘evil’. Though he owned a few slaves in his life (most people in his position did at some point), he was aware of the social and moral aspects of slavery. Most did. He also knew that it was a Constitutional right.
    Robert L Thornton, on the other hand, was a KKK member while he was mayor of Dallas. As someone said, “They took down the wrong ‘Robert'”.

  26. GeneP54 September 20, 2017 at 2:14 PM

    I’ll ask you the same thing that I asked above:
    And Lincoln called to deport all blacks (and actually DID deport some to Haiti), calling them ‘inferior and unable to coexist with whites’, and RLThornton was a member of the KKK while he was mayor of Dallas. Change everything?
    Maybe, instead, we can use inanimate objects who offer nothing verbally themselves, as teaching tools and as means to learn that history is just that….in the past…and move forward TOGETHER. Everyone talks about love, forgiveness, and progression, and then someone mentions that they are offended by something and we move right back to 50 – 150 years ago.

  27. GeneP54 September 20, 2017 at 2:07 PM

    And Lincoln called to deport all blacks, calling them ‘inferior and unable to coexist with whites’, and RLThornton was a member of the KKK while he was mayor of Dallas. Change everything?

  28. Spearchucker Jones September 18, 2017 at 12:17 PM

    You’re just another Libtard scumbag trying to juice everyone up with feigned outrage. Go jump down a well and spare us.

  29. Jane Bryant September 18, 2017 at 11:52 AM

    Just because someone disagrees with your opinion doesn’t mean they are disrespecting you, you understand that right?

  30. Austen Brown September 15, 2017 at 8:03 PM

    I have to leave the place I was born? No. I think we’ll make some changes around here.
    Respecting people will be the beginning, I think.

  31. Austen Brown September 15, 2017 at 8:02 PM

    Seriously? We have to take the time to think about how other people might feel?
    That is so unfair! We never used have to!
    Why is there so much oppression against white people?

  32. Spearchucker Jones September 14, 2017 at 2:32 PM

    You’re just another Libtard scumbag trying to juice everyone up with feigned outrage. Go jump down a well and spare us.

  33. downtownworker September 12, 2017 at 10:02 AM

    Jefferson used to extend downtown before the downtown section was renamed Record St. That’s where it intersected with Jackson St (after Andrew Jackson). https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/226e512f19eaea69882b8e08d4e264b271ce2c4fe6410c7bb36f4e57a4e0db78.jpg

  34. Tony Hammontree September 10, 2017 at 5:50 PM

    But Thomas Jefferson owned slaves…

  35. Larry New September 9, 2017 at 1:09 PM

    If you don’t like the way things are done in Dallas or in Texas,there are many freeways that can help you leave.Traffic flows in both directions.

  36. grannybunny September 9, 2017 at 12:07 PM

    Don’t forget Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary School, my alma mater.

  37. Jane Bryant September 8, 2017 at 6:32 PM

    “The optics of being named for Jeff Davis”? Seriously? So, I guess we should all live our lives worried about the “optics” of things rather than the reality? What a sad, shallow, ignorant, reactionary and uneducated way to live your life.

  38. Austen Brown September 8, 2017 at 5:06 PM

    Yeah, they might not have been ostensibly named for Jefferson Davis, but having them run parallel as the main east west thoroughfares in oak cliff certainly gives them the optics of being named for Jeff Davis.

    Seems like the optics are the problems with all of the commemorations. And as such, this is just another thing that needs changing.

  39. Veletta Forsythe Lill September 8, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    It is a wonderful resource, however, some of the descriptions in the list may not be complete. For example, Harwood and Lemmon are both listed on city documents having Confederate ties. There is no reference to that in other online documentation.

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