Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
The first settlement in the region that is now Dallas County was made on what is known as Buffalo Head Prairie. Just who was the first settler is a little obscure, though the claim that Mark Reynolds and family, natives of Tennessee, settled in 1832 on Buffalo Head Prairie, northwest a short distance from the Blue Mounds, is tolerably well authenticated.
Soon after Reynolds settled in the county, he placed a large buffalo head which he found on the prairie on a pole, where it remained for years as a way to mark for hunters and emigrants, and thus the prairie became known as Buffalo Head.
Soon after the Vanderford, Haines, Cox, Wright, Wilkerson and Gregg families from Ohio settled on land, and within the next few years there was a healthy increase of home seekers from Pennsylvania, New York and other states of both East and South.
The greater part of the territory now comprising Dallas County, in 1843, was organized into a county called Niangua, the name a corruption of the Indian word Nehemgar.
December 16, 1844, the boundaries of the county were slightly changed and an act passed providing that all that portion of the county, heretofore known as Niangua shall hereafter compose and be known as the County of Dallas in honor of Honorable George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania, then Vice President-elect of the United States. (--Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, Conard, Vol. 2, p. 218.)
Dallas County was first settled in 1833 by Mark Reynolds and family who moved on from Polk County, where he located in 1831. In 1837 the Wilkinson family arrived and the same year a large number of immigrants built their cabins--under authority of the Acts of January 29, 1841, and February 15, 1841, the county was organized, and from that date the development of the territory may be said to date. (--A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region, Goodspeed Bros., Chicago, 1894, p. 23.)
It was organized Dec. 10, 1844, as "Niangua County", and Dec. 16, 1844, the name was changed to Dallas in honor of George M. Dallas, of Pennsylvania, who had recently been elected Vice President. (--How Missouri Counties, Towns and Streams Were Named, second article, p. 83.) (David W. Eaton, in a series of articles in The Missouri Historical Review.)
Dallas County (Parent County, Polk). Organized 1842 as Niangua County; in 1844, boundaries slightly changed and name changed to Dallas; court-house burned Oct. 18, 1863; second court-house burned July 30, 1864, and records destroyed; the replaced records were burned Sept. 3, 1867. (--Fourth Edition of the Handy Book for Genealogists, Geo. Everton, Sr., p. 98.)
NOTE: Despite the belief held by some people, the report that the court-house was burned Aug. 11, 1861, cannot be verified.
The Evans, Randelman, Reynolds and Williams families from Kentucky settled in this county in 1837-38. They were soon followed by members of the Vandeford (other sources spell the name Vanderford), Haines, Cox, Gregg, and Wilkerson (other sources spell the name Wilkinson), families from Ohio, and later there were many settlers from New York, Pennsylvania, and the New England States.
A party of hunters, among them Samuel Grigsby, found on the prairie a skeleton head of a large buffalo, and placed it on a stake. It became a noted way-mark for hunters, travelers and immigrants, and gave to the surrounding region its name of Buffalo Head Prairie. (--Gazetteer of Missouri, Campbell, 1874, p. 183.)
The county was first settled in 1831, and was formed from Polk County. (--Campbell's New Atlas of Missouri, p. 57.)
A part of Dallas County came from Greene Co. (--Past and Present of Greene Co., Fairbanks and Tuck, Vol. 1, p. 123. Also, History of Greene County, Missouri, Holcombe, 1883, p. 157.)
Niangua County, 1841; changed in 1844 to Dallas County. (--Our Store-House of Missouri Place Names, Robert L. Ramsay, p. 6.)
Nine Missouri counties have Indian names. Dallas at one time was known as Niangua. (--Our Store-House of Missouri Place Names, Robert L. Ramsay, p. 39.)