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The Origin of Dalby Springs

The Dalby Springs well as it exists today.
The Dalby Springs well as it exists today. (Photo by Jathan Fink, Townsquare Media)

American History courses usually cover states and events in broad strokes, hitting only the highlights. But much of our nation’s history is born in little towns by “average” folks most of us have never heard of. When we dig a little deeper though, we quickly discover there is nothing average about those who came before us.

Take for instance the Dalby family. A prolific and prominent clan, they moved to America from England and originally settled in Norfolk, Virginia.

On Mar. 10, 1777, Knightingale Dalby (aka Knight) was born in Granville County, North Carolina.

When Knight was 33 years old, he inherited 250 acres of land in Granville County from Micajah Bullock “for the good will I have for him and his family,” according to a will made on July 1, 1818.

Knight sold the property to his brother Dick and moved to Tennessee. He wed Ann Bullock and together they had ten children, according to an old family Bible printed in England in 1804. Knight died on Oct. 29, 1827. He was 50 years old.

In 1839, the Congress of the Republic of Texas wanted to entice settlers to move west. To accomplish this, they offered 640 acres of land as a homestead to every man who moved here with his family and lived as citizens for a minimum of three years.

This offer must have been attractive to Ann, because she and four of her children, including 33-year-old Warren, his wife Lucy and their seven children, migrated to east Texas by covered wagon pulled by oxen. The family settled near DeKalb.

Three years later, Warren applied to county Land Commisioners, showing his family status and that he had truly settled in the area. Afterward, the governor issued a certificate of patent to the Dalbys, and they assumed ownership of the land. This is the method by which most of the towns we’ve covered in our Small Town Tour were originally settled.

Lucy died in 1845, and Warren had to raise his children alone, who were 15 years old and younger.

Sometime prior to 1850, the family discovered a spring of red water and the tract of land the family settled became known as Dalby Springs.

The land was sold later to the Estes’ family, and then to J.W. Farrier, who ultimately opened a pleasure resort and hotel there because the waters were discovered to have medicinal properties.

By 1888, the town had a church, a school, five mills, five gins and a population estimated at 250.

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