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Lancaster, Texas
Lancaster's Historic Town Square
Lancaster's Historic Town Square
The City of Trees
Location of Lancaster in Dallas County, Texas
Location of Lancaster in Dallas County, Texas
Country United StatesUnited States
State TexasTexas
County Dallas
 • Type Council-Manager
 • Total 30.3 sq mi (78.6 km2)
 • Land 30.3 sq mi (78.4 km2)
 • Water 0.08 sq mi (0.2 km2)
522 ft (159 m)
 • Total 38,801
 • Density 1,278.6/sq mi (493.7/km2)
Time zone UTC-6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-5 (Central)
ZIP codes
75134, 75146
Area code(s) 214, 469, 972
FIPS code 48-41212
GNIS feature ID 1339599

Lancaster ( LANG-kiss-tər ) is a city in Dallas County, Texas, United States. The population was 36,361 at the 2010 census. Founded in 1852 as a frontier post, Lancaster is one of Dallas County's earliest settlements. Today, it is a suburban community located in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, approximately 15 miles (24 km) south of Downtown Dallas.

Lancaster is part of the Best Southwest area, which includes Lancaster, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, and Duncanville.


Early settlement

In 1841, an act of the Republic of Texas Congress authorized President Mirabeau Lamar to enter into a contract with William S. Peters and nineteen associates to promote settlement in North Texas and paid the company with free land in exchange for recruiting new settlers. Around 600 families would settle in what became known as Peters Colony from 1841 through 1844. The Peters' group advertised heavily in Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and Tennessee, and for that reason, many of the earliest settlers were from those states. The first group to settle in the Lancaster area was Roderick Rawlins and his family from Greene County, Illinois. They left for Texas in September 1844. Rawlins and two of his sons-in-law came ahead to select the general area where they would settle. They chose an uninhabited area south of Dallas along the north bank of Ten Mile Creek as the site of their new settlement. In December 1844, the three men went back to Lamar County near the Red River to bring the rest of their wagon train. All of the settlers had arrived by January 2, 1845 and they formed a community known as Hardscrabble. It consisted of two rows of log cabins with a street running north and south. In total, 30 men, women, and children lived in Hardscrabble.

Several miles north of Hardscrabble, a second community called Pleasant Run was established in 1846 by Polly Rawlins, one of Roderick's daughters, and her husband Madison Moultrie "M.M." Miller. Together, the Millers built a two-room structure with one room used as a general store and the other for living. By 1848, the structure had grown to fifteen rooms, a separate store, and a warehouse. A post office was established with biweekly mail delivery and Miller as postmaster. By 1850, he had laid out a town and sold lots, but never filed a plat of the community with Dallas County. At its peak, Pleasant Run boasted a stage stop, school, and steam-powered grist mill in addition to Miller's store. Accelerated by the death of M.M. Miller in 1860, Pleasant Run declined. Shortly after the Rawlins' settlers abandoned the Hardscrabble settlement, Lancaster became the dominant community in the area.

Founding of Lancaster

The founder of Lancaster was "A" Bledsoe (some sources list his name as Abram Bledsoe or Albert A. Bledsoe). He was born in Lancaster, Kentucky in 1801. An interesting note regarding his name: according to family lore, when his father Moses first looked at his newborn son, he is said to have remarked, "he looks like a Bledsoe." Thus his name, A Bledsoe, is unmarked by a period.

Bledsoe surveyed and staked off the original town of Lancaster in 1852. He purchased 430-acres of land from the widow of Roderick Rawlins and modeled it after his Kentucky hometown. The layout featured a town square with streets entering from the center of each side rather than from the corners. Bledsoe began selling lots at a public auction in 1853, reportedly giving as many as two-thirds of them to settlers from the nearby Pleasant Run community. The official plat of the town of Lancaster wasn't filed with Dallas County until 1857. Bledsoe would later serve as Dallas County Judge and State Comptroller. He died in 1882.

In 1860, a post office was established in Lancaster.

Progress and challenges

MKTDepot LancasterTX
Lancaster's Historic MKT Depot and Rose Garden

During the American Civil War, the Tucker, Sherrod & Company contracted with the State of Texas to manufacture replicas of the .44 caliber Colt Dragoon from a factory on West Main Street in Lancaster. John M. Crockett, former mayor of Dallas and lieutenant governor of Texas, served as superintendent of the arms factory. In the early years of Reconstruction, a drought crippled the economy to such an extent that few residents could afford more than the most basic of necessities. It would be well into the 1870s before the economy fully recovered, due in large part to the town's proximity to heavily trafficked cattle trails. The first public well was dug in the city of the town square in 1876. Fires destroyed parts of the square in 1877, 1889, and again in 1918, each time being promptly rebuilt. Local telephone service came to Lancaster in 1881. Lancaster was incorporated on May 5, 1886. One year later, the Lancaster Herald newspaper began printing.

In December 1888, Lancaster's train depot opened as a stop on the Dallas and Waco Railway. In 1891, it became part of the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad (MKT) line, running from Dallas to the Gulf Coast of Texas. The Lancaster Tap Railroad, completed in 1890, connected the MKT line in Lancaster with the Dallas-Houston line of the Houston and Texas Central Railway (H&TC) in Hutchins, 4.5 miles away. It operated for 44 years. Rene Paul "R.P." Henry opened the first official bank in 1889. By 1897, the town had a public school, Masonic Temple, a chapter of the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), and a variety of Christian churches. From 1898 to 1901, Texas Christian University founder Randolph Clark established Randolph College in Lancaster. After its closure, the facilities were used continuously until they burned in 1912 fire.

Early 20th century

At the start of the 20th century, Lancaster had 1,045 residents and served hundreds more from the surrounding rural areas who worked, worshiped, attended school, and made their purchases in the town. The Texas Legislature created the Lancaster Independent School District in March 1905 and voters approved several bond elections over the next decade that improved educational facilities. Electric lighting was introduced in 1911 via the Texas Power and Light Company when the interurban Texas Electric Railway (Dallas to Waco) ran through town. Lancaster remained tied to its surrounding agricultural lands. Farmers produced a wide range of crops, including wheat, cotton, beans, peas, and sweet potatoes. Many agricultural-related businesses also thrived until the Dust Bowl and Great Depression caused the economy to contract. On February 27, 1934, Clyde Barrow of Bonnie & Clyde fame robbed the R.P. Henry and Sons Bank that was then located near the southeast corner of the town square. Bonnie Parker waited in the getaway car on Malloy Bridge Road while Clyde and Raymond Hamilton walked in, robbed the bank, and walked out with over $4,000. In June 1936, a storm toppled Lancaster's 50,000-gallon water tower, brought down utility poles and damaged many homes. It wasn't until the early 1940s that the economic climate began to show improvement.


Between 1900 and 1940, Lancaster's population grew slowly, ranging between 1,000 and 1,200 at each census. In 1950, the population had risen to just over 2,600. Soon after, the growth rate rapidly increased as Lancaster began to transform from a small town into a suburban bedroom community of Dallas. By 1960, there were 7,501 residents living in the city, a 185 percent increase over the 1950 figure. Highlights of the 1970s included a 1975 urban renewal project to improve the town square, which had suffered a loss of businesses to areas outside of downtown, and the opening of Cedar Valley College in 1977. Significant development continued into the 1980s. A hospital, two shopping centers, four schools, several apartment complexes, and a number of new residential subdivisions were built to accommodate the growing population.

Recent history

WhiteBankBldg LancasterTX
1994 Tornado damage and repair are evident in the brick color on the former White Bank Building on Lancaster's Historic Town Square.

On the night of April 25, 1994, a violent F4 tornado ripped through Lancaster, killing three and injuring nearly 50 others. More than 250 homes and every building on the town square was heavily damaged or completely destroyed by the roughly half-mile wide tornado. The White & Company Bank building, a local landmark since 1898, was severely damaged in the tornado but was rebuilt, and in 1998 reopened as headquarters for the Lancaster Economic Development Corporation.

In 2005 and 2006 Lancaster was a finalist for the All-America City Award. In 2007 the National Arbor Day Foundation designated Lancaster a Tree City USA.

Between 2000 and 2010, Lancaster's population increased by 40 percent, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in Dallas County during the decade.

On April 3, 2012, an EF-2 tornado struck the city as part of the April 3, 2012 tornado outbreak. 300 structures were reported damaged. A tornado emergency was not called for Lancaster, but a tornado emergency was called for the nearby cities of Dallas, Greenville, and Arlington. No deaths were reported from either the Lancaster tornado or any other tornado that day.


Lancaster is located in southern Dallas County and is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, the largest metropolitan area in the state of Texas. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 30.35 square miles (78.6 km2), of which 30.28 square miles (78.4 km2) is land and 0.07 square miles (0.18 km2) is water. On November 14, 2011, a tract of land covering 2.9 square miles (7.5 km2) within Lancaster's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) was annexed into to the city.

Lancaster is situated within the Blackland Prairie region of Texas, which is characterized by level to gently rolling topography. Ten Mile Creek and its tributaries are a major drainage feature in and around the city. Because much of the area was used for farming and other agricultural business, much of the natural vegetation has been cleared. Areas near creeks have retained some of their original tree cover, which includes pecan trees, cedar elms, and several species of oak.


Lancaster is located within the humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen climate classification: Cfa), which is characterized by hot, humid summers and mild to cool winters. On average, July is the warmest month and January is the coolest month. The maximum average precipitation occurs in May.

Climate data for Lancaster, Texas
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 57
Average low °F (°C) 37
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.06
Source: The Weather Channel (extremes)


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 497
1890 741 49.1%
1900 1,045 41.0%
1910 1,115 6.7%
1920 1,190 6.7%
1930 1,133 −4.8%
1940 1,151 1.6%
1950 2,632 128.7%
1960 7,501 185.0%
1970 10,522 40.3%
1980 14,807 40.7%
1990 22,117 49.4%
2000 25,894 17.1%
2010 36,361 40.4%
Est. 2015 38,801 6.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

2010 Census

At the 2010 United States Census there were 36,361 people, 12,520 households, and 9,252 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,200.8 per square mile (463.6 km2). There were 13,622 housing units at an average density of 449.9 per square mile (173.7 km2). The racial makeup of the city was 24,997 (68.75%) African American, 7,409 (20.38%) White (12.90% Non-Hispanic White), 128 (0.35%) Native American, 106 (0.29%) Asian, 13 (0.04%) Pacific Islander, 2,951 (8.12%) from other races, and 757 (2.08%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6,164 (16.95%) of the population.

There were 12,520 households, out of which 4,892 (39.1%) had children under the age of 18 living with them, 5,159 (41.2%) were married couples living together, 3,393 (27.1%) had a female householder with no husband present, and 3,268 (26.1%) were non-families. 2,788 (22.3%) of all households were made up of individuals and 593 (4.7%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.88 and the average family size was 3.36.

The population was spread out with 11,350 people (31.2%) under the age of 18, 3,250 (8.9%) aged 18 to 24, 10,676 (29.4%) aged 25 to 44, 8,457 (23.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 2,628 (7.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.3 years. For every 100 females there were 84.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 78.5 males.

2000 Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 25,894 people, 9,182 households, and 6,895 families residing in the city. The population density was 884.0 people per square mile (341.3/km²). There were 9,590 housing units at an average density of 327.4 per square mile (126.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 37.63% White, 53.00% African American, 0.49% Native American, 0.39% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 6.58% from other races, and 1.85% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11.59% of the population. As of the 2000 census, Lancaster is the largest African American-majority city in Texas.

There were 9,182 households out of which 40.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.4% were married couples living together, 20.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.9% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.22.

In the city, the population was spread out with 30.5% under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 85.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,773, and the median income for a family was $48,498. Males had a median income of $33,406 versus $30,653 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,731. About 6.1% of families and 8.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.1% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.

Parks and recreation

The responsibilities of Lancaster's Parks and Recreation Department include park maintenance, recreation programs, and management of recreational facilities.


The system of public parks in Lancaster covers more than 600 acres. The 170-acre Lancaster Community Park is the most utilized park in the city. It features a six-acre pond known as Contemplation Lake with a fishing pier, lighted football and soccer fields, hiking/biking trails, playground, amphitheater, and the Royce Clayton Baseball Field, which has a covered grandstand that can seat 500 spectators. The Recreation Center, Senior Life Center, Library, and Public Safety Building are located in the park.

Lancaster City Park is another highly utilized park in the city with four baseball/softball fields, two playgrounds, two tennis courts, a basketball court, walking trail, and an off-leash area for dogs. The park also has two concession stands and two large pavilions, each with 15 tables. The Cedardale Park and Complex in northern Lancaster contains baseball/softball fields, a basketball court, playground, and concession stand. There are smaller neighborhood parks located throughout the city with playgrounds and other amenities. They are J.A. Dewberry Park, Jaycee Park, Kids Square Park, Meadowcreek Park, Rocky Crest Park, Stanford Park, and Verona Park. Heritage Park, which contains an iconic gazebo, is located north of the historic town square in downtown Lancaster. The newest addition to the park system is the 2.4 mile Pleasant Run Hike and Bike Trail, which opened in the spring of 2010 and is routed through neighborhoods in central Lancaster.

Two nature preserves have been established in Lancaster, Bear Creek Nature Park and the Ten Mile Creek Preserve. The 189-acre Bear Creek Nature Park was created on land purchased with a $500,000 matching grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Features of the park site include equestrian and walking trails with interpretive signage, a fishing pond, climbing rock, butterfly garden, and a large pavilion for picnics. Additionally, there is an outdoor classroom and educational programs available for children. The Ten Mile Creek Preserve sits on land donated to the city by Dallas County. It remains largely undeveloped to protect the natural meadows and wooded areas. A two-mile unpaved trail runs through the preserve.


The 64,000 square foot Lancaster Recreation Center features an indoor water park, gymnasium, elevated jogging track, and a fitness atrium with an aerobics/dance room. The building also includes a banquet room and catering kitchen that can be utilized for meetings and other social events. The banquet room has a covered outdoor terrace and courtyard that overlooks Contemplation Lake.

The Senior Life Center is a full-service activity center serving adults aged 50 years and older. The 11,500 square foot building opened in December 2008. The facility includes a dining hall, commercial kitchen, classrooms, computer lab, and reading lounge. Transportation to and from the center is available for Lancaster residents in need.

Country View Golf Course is an 18-hole, par 70 public golf course located on West Belt Line Road. It was designed by Florida architect Ron Garl and opened for play in 1989. The course spans 6,461 yards from the back tee with Bermuda grass fairways. There is a chipping area, putting green, and driving range as well as on-site golf pro shop and sports bar.



The 45,000 square foot Cold War Air Museum is located on the grounds of Lancaster Regional Airport. Flying aircraft from the Cold War-era are exhibited as well as related artifacts, artwork, and library resources from that period. A portion of the museum is a working restoration facility which actively returns Cold War-era aircraft to flying status.

Also located at Lancaster Regional Airport, the Commemorative Air Force Museum–Dallas/Fort Worth Wing is dedicated to the preservation of combat aircraft of World War II.

The Lancaster Visitors Center & State Auxiliary Museum is located in the renovated Interurban Building at the corner of Dallas Avenue and Main Street, the museum contains exhibits and historical artifacts showcasing the history of Lancaster and the State of Texas. The building also houses the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and visitors center.

The Rocky Crest Museum highlights a collection of historical items connected to Rocky Crest School - Lancaster's first school for African-Americans, its former students, and the surrounding community. The museum is located at the J.D. Hall Learning Center on Second Street, site of the former Rocky Crest School.


Lancaster has three properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Randlett House, Captain R. A. Rawlins House, and the W. A. Strain Farm-Strain House.

Texas Historical Marker at the site of Rocky Crest School, which served Lancaster's African-American students prior to desegregation.

The Texas Historical Commission has designated 14 sites in the Lancaster area with historical markers. Listed below are the sites in Lancaster with state historical markers and the year they received the designation:

  • Towns/Communities
    • Town of Lancaster (1974) - This marker commemorates the founding of Lancaster and is located in the Historic Town Square.
    • Pleasant Run (1974) - This marker commemorates the former Pleasant Run community and is located at the Regions Bank building on North Dallas Avenue.
  • Historic Homes
    • Captain R. A. Rawlins House (1964)
    • W. A. Strain House (1977)
    • Winniford House (1994)
  • Educational Institution
    • Rocky Crest School (2012)
  • Graveyard
    • Edgewood Cemetery (1974)
  • Places of Worship
    • First Presbyterian Church of Lancaster (1976)
    • First United Methodist Church of Lancaster (1976)
    • First Baptist Church of Lancaster (1977)
    • First Christian Church of Lancaster (1979)
    • St. Paul Freewill Baptist Church (1985)
  • Former Sites
    • Site of the Confederate Arms Factory (1936)
    • Former Site of Head House (1978)

Community events

Several community events are held in Lancaster throughout the year. In January, the Lancaster Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation hosts the annual MLK parade and gala.

The Lancaster Country Ride, sponsored by Greater Dallas Bicyclists (GDB), takes place each April. The route begins at the town square and traverses the back roads of Lancaster.

The annual July Fourth celebration is held at Lancaster Community Park and features family activities, food, and a fireworks show. It is a joint collaboration between the cities of Lancaster and DeSoto.

The Dallas/Fort Worth Wing of the Commemorative Air Force hosts Warbirds on Parade in the late summer (August/September). The event at Lancaster Regional Airport features restored World War II aircraft, military vehicles, memorabilia and classic cars.

In October, an Oktoberfest celebration is held by the Lancaster Historic Society. Lancaster High School's homecoming parade is also held during the month.

A Christmas parade and festival is held in December. The festival includes a tree lighting, live entertainment, and carnival games.

The city sponsors four "Trash Off" events during the year. Residents participate by bringing bulk trash, recyclables, tires, scrap metal, brush, and electronic waste for disposal. Local organizations and volunteers also participate in clean-up campaigns across the city.

2nd Saturday on the Square is a long-standing tradition in Lancaster. Held at the historic town square on the second Saturday of each month, the event features food, music, entertainment, and a variety of commercial vendors.

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