Source: "A Brief History of Garland", City of Garland Website
Community rivalry, a devastating fire, and the location of two railroads played a vital part in the founding of the city called Garland, Texas.
Before Texas attained statehood in 1846, the Garland area was part of the vast Peters colony, a venture by W. S. Peters for the settlement of families around the present Dallas, Texas area. The area contained acres and acres of wildflowers, trees in the bottom lands only, and a few bands of wandering Indians.
Settlers began arriving about 1850, and a community was launched in 1874 with a store and later a mill, built by a man named Moles. The corn mill was built on the northwest bank of Duck Creek, so the settlement took the same name.
The pioneers found the black soil ideal for cotton and made it their primary agricultural product. By 1867, two cotton gins had been built to accommodate the farming community, and in 1878 a post office was established.
However, in 1886, the Santa Fe Railroad built a rail line and a depot that bypassed old Duck Creek by almost a mile. A village grew up near the depot, named Embree, after prominent physician Dr. K. H. Embree. Many of the townspeople from Duck Creek moved to the new area and the post office went with them. That same year, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (MK&T) came through, but declined to join the Santa Fe in a union station. Instead, MK&T built its own station a little further north and called it Duck Creek.
A battle ensued between Embree and the new Duck Creek, each seeking to lure citizens of old Duck Creek to their community. Finally, Dallas County Judge Thomas A. Nash, a leader of the Duck Creek forces, asked a visiting Congressman, Joe Abbott, to move the post office between the two towns. Abbott submitted a bill to Congress, forcing the two railroads to deliver to the new post office. In 1887, the government not only moved the post office, but also named the new location Garland, in honor of then Attorney General A. H. Garland. Both Duck Creek and Embree, as well as the old Duck Creek, were dissolved as they combined to form the new city of Garland.
The first volunteer fire department was formed after the fire of 1889. These volunteers used a 2-wheel cart which carried two 30-gallon soda and acid fire extinguishers.
In 1891, Garland was incorporated. An election was held April 18, and 70 of the 71 qualified voters voted in favor of incorporation. In May, 1891, M. D. Williams was elected as the first Mayor of Garland, along with one marshal, Tobe Ethridge, and five aldermen: S. E. Scott, J. N. Floyd, J. R. Brown, S. A. Allen, and J. D. Curfman.
In 1918, Jess M. Jones was elected City Marshal to handle police services. His duties also included grading the roads, mowing, and hauling off trash. Additionally, Mr. Jones served as tax assessor-collector and city secretary.
On April 8, 1920, E. F. Cloud became the first uniformed City Marshal after receiving 37 votes to win the race.
On July 16, 1920, two City Traffic Officers were appointed by the Council. They served without pay and were instructed to appoint deputies as needed to keep the traffic at the ball games clear and moving.
In 1920, Fairbanks-Morse offered to sell the City of Garland on credit a 100 HP generator, provided the City would build its own electric distribution system and use the revenue to retire the debt. Twenty businessmen each pledged $1,000 to the fledgling enterprise and most residents agreed to install electric lights and become customers of Garland Power & Light. On April 1, 1923, the City of Garland officially entered the electric and water utility business with 300 customers and a load of seven megawatts.
In 1923, the volunteer fire department was reorganized and two Model-T Fords were purchased. Also at this time, fire plugs were placed in the downtown area.
During the 1930's, a full-time fireman was hired. This one man along with volunteers, continued to run the Fire Department until 1955 when Harry Grantham was hired as the first paid Fire Chief.
From 1950 to 1954, the Garland area suffered the most serious drought in its history. Since Garland's water came from area wells, the potential of a replenishing supply troubled city officials. A dam on nearby Lake Lavon and a water district seemed to be possible solutions. At this time, Garland and eleven other area cities formed the North Texas Municipal Water District, with H. R. Bisby and Haskell Roach serving as Water District board members from Garland.
On October 16, 1951, the Home Rule Charter was adopted by Garland voters, setting up the Council-manager form of government under which Garland presently operates. The city is divided into eight districts, with a City Council member elected from each district and mayor elected at-large.
Garland Power & Light
After a fire decimated Garland’s business district for the third time in sixteen years, the need for a municipal water and sewer system was evident. Garland’s leaders knew a municipal water and sewer system would not only help reduce the local fire insurance rates, but also aid the fledgling community of 1,400 in attracting future growth.
In 1920, the City of Garland's first water and sewer systems were funded with a $100,000 bond issue. Water line construction commenced and pumps were purchased with the assumption that Texas Power & Light would provide electric service at a commercial rate. To the astonishment of city leaders, Texas Power & Light offered a rate so high that the cost to provide water service would be economically impractical.
With Texas Power & Light refusing to negotiate with Garland on the electric rate and the water system nearing completion, Garland leaders began to consider starting their own electric system. Part of the equipment Garland had already purchased was a 75 HP Fairbanks-Morse diesel generator, intended for use as an emergency back-up power supply for the water pumps. But, if Garland intended to start its own electric system, it would need a second generator. Bond funds were expended and no money was available for the purchase of a second generator. Fairbanks, Morse & Co. offered to sell to the City, on credit, a second generator provided the City would build its own electric distribution system and use the revenue to retire the debt. A group of local businessmen personally guaranteed the line of credit used to fund the fledgling enterprise.
On April 1, 1923, Garland officially entered the electric and water utility business. The system was an instant success and by October of 1923 the City Council convened to consider adding another generator to meet the rapid customer growth. A third generator was purchased as Garland Power & Light began to flourish.
From these humble origins, GP&L has now grown to include two generating plants, C.E. Newman and Ray Olinger. These two plants combined produce 430 megawatts of generating capacity.
In addition to its own generation, Garland is partners with the cities of Bryan, Denton, and Greenville in the Texas Municipal Power Agency which operates the Gibbons Creek Power Plant. With more than 62,000 customers, Garland Power & Light has grown to become the third largest municipal electric system in the State of Texas and the thirty-ninth largest in the nation.