When Dallas Became a City: Letters of John Milton McCoy, 1870-1881, considered to be the most important primary source ever published about the history of Dallas, describes how Dallas was transformed from a Southern country market town into a boom town. Reading like a novel, the letters of John Milton McCoy tell the story of daily life in a thriving frontier town and give insight into the customs and values of late nineteenth-century America. John Milton McCoy was, in many ways, a typical Victorian: deeply religious, affectionate, and devoted to his family. Born and reared in Indiana, he came to Texas in November, 1870, after the death of his first wife and joined the law firm of his uncle, John C. McCoy, Dallas' first practicing attorney. Filled with his love of travel, his sense of humor, and his enthusiasm for living, John M. McCoy's letters include glimpses of many prominent Dallas citizens, such as Catharine Coit, Henry Ervay and Maximilien Reverchon. The letters also give beautiful, clear descriptions of Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Austin and other places in Texas.
The book's editor, Elizabeth York Enstam, received her Ph.D. degree in history from Duke University.