Virginia Taught Her to Smile; Texas Taught Her to Fight
I love the stories of women who, on the verge of losing everything, look defeat squarely in the eye and knock the snot out of it.
When Sarah Cockrell’s husband Alexander died in 1858, he left her with three small children and a few struggling businesses. Oh, and a mountain of debt.
At the time of his death, Alexander owned a sawmill, gristmill, office building, and a ferry business in Dallas. Recognizing Sarah’s business acumen, and since he couldn’t read or write, he let her handle his books, as well as his correspondence. Upon Alexander’s passing, Sarah did not wring her hands and think about running back to Virginia. She jumped in, wrestled his debt to the ground and emerged with a sound company.
Sarah is remembered in Texas, though, for the construction of an iron suspension bridge across the Trinity River. The Texas state legislature OKed her idea for the venture in 1860, but it took her 12 years and the end of the Civil War to bring it about. In 1872, the bridge opened up Dallas to several major roads and ushered in a pretty energetic economic boom. Ironically, while her bridge company did well and the city blossomed, Sarah never sat on the board of the Dallas Bridge Company. It wasn’t customary. She owned the majority of stock and could have sat at the head of the table, but methinks a few men on the board didn’t like the competition.
And they had reason to fear this little lady. She was just getting rolling. The bridge deal was good to Sarah and by the 1880’s she was dabbling in real estate, becoming a regular Donald Trump. In 1889 she handled fifty-three separate land deals and in both 1890 and 1891 more than twenty.1 By 1892, the belle from Virginia owned a quarter of downtown Dallas.
There are plaques and charities and buildings named for Sarah. Who remembers the men on the board of the Dallas Bridge Company, hmmm?
1 Texas State Historical Association
Copyright 2014 Heather Blanton
Posted on July 24, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged a lady in defiance, Alaskan Gold Rush, American women, American Women in the Revolutionary War, C.S. Fly, christian fiction, Colonial America, Dallas History, Daughters of the American Revolution, dawson city, Female Patriots, Fremont St., Frontier Women, George "Bittercreek" Newsome, gold rush, heather blanton, heather frey blanton, historical fiction, historical romance, Kathleen Eloise Rockwell, klondike, Klondike Kate, Mollie Fly, ok corral, Old West History, patriots, Photography in the Old West, pioneer women, Rose Dunn, Sarah Cockrell, tombstone, Tombstone AZ, women and guns, women entrepreneurs, women in alaskan history, Women in Oklahoma History, Women in Texas History, Women in the Gold Rush, women of the old west, Women who won the west, wyatt earp, Yukon. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.