Agent A. R. Alcott, an engineer for the Texas & Pacific Railroad, filed the first plat for the township of Mesquite with Dallas County on May 22, 1873. Major William Bradfield, was the first stationmaster and postmaster for Mesquite. The railroad purchased a square mile of acreage, built a depot and offered business and residential lots for sale. Six weeks later, on July 1, 1873, the Texas & Pacific train steamed from Longview through Mesquite marking the beginning of a new era.
Texas historians recognize William Bradfield as the first settler of Mesquite, but it was well known that the David Florence, Braxton Jobson, Zachariah Motley and John Lawrence families had already settled in this area.
2nd Town Outside of Dallas
On December 3, 1887, an election was held in which 25 votes were cast for incorporation and 14 against it. Mesquite was the second town outside of Dallas, in Dallas County incorporate. The first official leadership election of the newly incorporated town was held in April, 1888 and J. E. Russell was elected mayor. A number of the community’s civic leaders resided in the Long Creek area, now part of Sunnyvale. They included the Paschall, Reedy, Lawrence, Vineyard, Coats, Caldwell, Bennett, Snyder and Webb families.
New Town Square
In the late 1800’s, the town proper consisted mainly of a saloon, a blacksmith shop, a confectionery, the post office, depot and four homes. The wooden businesses all faced Front Street, the first street in the central area. As commerce expanded, the citizens wanted to create an official town square. Already , business owners were tying their horses up to hitching posts at the rear of the buildings (Main St.) to shield the horses from the loud trains. Until the late 1940s, only Main, Davis, Front and Galloway streets existed. Awnings were placed on both sides of the Front Street stores, facing the railroad and the town square. Plus a new brick plant opening caused many of the business leaders to want to replace older, wooden structures with more “modern” brick buildings. Nearly 30 years after the town’s beginning, a public square became the center point of Mesquite.
Mesquite grew slowly in population with the growth divided into two eras: Mesquite was a quiet agricultural town from 1873 to the late 1950’s, the post-World War II building boom brought phenomenal growth. In the first U. S. Census, taken in 1890, Mesquite had a population of 135; 10 years later it had only grown by 270. However by 2006, about 135,894 people called Mesquite home.