Leslie Allison Stemmons is known as the father of the Sunset Hill Addition. He was the son of Conferate Colonel John Martin Stemmons and Rebecca Serena Allison, who moved from Greenville, Missouri to Dallas County, shortly after the Civil War around 1867. Leslie was born on November 8, 1876 in Dallas County, Texas on Pearl Street near Live Oak. The old Stemmon’s farm was located where the current Methodist Medical Center now stands.
At the age of 15 Leslie experienced two personal tragedies within months of each other. First his father passed away on May 4, 1890. That August, Leslie went with his brother Beverly and two friends, Jim Simms and Harry Jones, to go fishing at McCormick’s Bluff which was about 10 miles from their home. Beverly had learned that they could secure a lot of fish by throwing dynamite sticks into the river. On this occassion he decided he was going to throw two sticks of dynamite. The others members of the fishing team thought is was kind of dangerous and backed up about 20 yards from Beverly. Beverly lit the first stick and threw it into the river, not noticing that he had accidently lit the second stick. He quickly tried to throw it in the river, but it exploded mangling him. His fishing companions were knocked to the gound and slightly injured with bruses. Beverly lived for about 6 hours and then died. Beverly and Leslie’s father are both buried in the Masonic Cemetery (now Pioneer Cemetery, in downtown Dallas, near the convention center)
Leslie went on to attended Southwestern Univeristy in Georgetown Texas and graduated from the University of Chicago, majoring in real estate and law. He returned about 1900 and worked for the Sanger Brothers in the gravel mining business.
After his arrival back in Dallas he married Elizabeth Vinson Story on July 16, 1902. Elizabeth was the daughter of Millard Story and Elizabeth Vinson Wingfield. She was born on September 23, 1882 in Mexia, Texas. Leslie and Elizabeth had three children; Leslie Storey Stemmons (1904-1970), Elizabeth Storey Stemmons (1906-1979), and John Millard Stemmons (1909-2001).
Around 1887 Hord’s Ridge was renamed by Thomas Marsalias as Oak Cliff. The life of Oak Cliff as a seperate town from Dallas had a short life of 16 years. On March 17, 1903, Oak Cliff was annexed by the city of Dallas by a margin of 18 votes. Leslie Stemmons was a major influence in pursuading Oak Cliff to become part of Dallas.
In 1908 the Trinity River overflowed (which wasn’t unusal back then) to a heighth of 52.6 feet, as measured on Commerce Street in Dallas. For years the Trinity River was an obsticle that seperated Dallas and Oak Cliff. This flood, cause the city of Dallas to form the Ulrickson Committee and draft a flood-control plan for the city which Leslie was a part of. The committee studied 550 miles of the river and the 18,000 square miles it drains. George Kessler in 1910 recommended that levees be constructed to control the Trinity River, partially thanks to Leslie who had reviewed the Panama Cannal construction and saw the impact of moving large mounds of dirt.
On January 3, 1910, Leslie lost his beloved wife Elizabeth only five moths after the birht of their youngest son, John Millard Stemmons. Elizabeth was laid to rest in the Oak Cliff Cemetery, off of 8th Street.
After Elizabeth’s death, Leslie became even more involved in his Real Estate business. As a real estate agent Stemmons developed the Miller-Stemmons addition from his family farm with his friend and former co-worker Scott Miller. He went on to develop, Winnetka Heights, Rosemont Crest, Sunset Hill Addition, Sunset Annex, Sunset Summit, Sunset Heights, and Sunset Crest all located in Oak Cliff. Leslie was also a leader in the building of the Houston Street Viaduct between Dallas and Oak Cliff (at one time, the longest concrete bridge in the world). Stemmons was also a president and director of Atlas Metal Works, a director of Southwestern Land and Loan Company, and a director of Evergreen Hills, Inc.
On October 4, 1915, Leslie married his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Proctor Howell. Elizabeth was the daughter of William Robert Howell and Alta Proctor Taylor, born on June 20, 1896 in Van Zandt County, Texas. Leslie and his 2nd wife Elizabeth had one son Leslie Allison Stemmons, Jr. (1917-1982)
In 1925, the committee recommended to the city of Dallas a Trinity Levee District. This district would reclaimed over 10,500 acres of land by keeping the flood waters of the Trinity River between levees, alllowing the flooding to only consume 4,000 acres flood lands. 13 miles of levees were begun and completed in 1932 at the heigth of 30 feet. Upon their completion Leslie formed the Industrial Properties Coporation to develop the land reclaimed.
Leslie was a member of the Dallas Historical Society, the Dallas Real Estate Board, and Oak Cliff Methodist Church. He died October 15, 1939 and was buried next to his 1st wife in the Oak Cliff Cemetery. At the time of his death Leslie resided at 100 North Rosemont at the coner of Jefferson. (Today the site of the Salvation Army Church)
Wikipedia : Leslie Stemmons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Stemmons
Dallas County Pioneer Association http://www.dallaspioneer.org/stories/pioneers.php?ID=388