There are two smaller communities surrounded by the City of Arlington. Combined, they are less than three square miles with a population of roughly 5,000 people. While similar in size, each has a much different history.
Let’s visit Pantego and Dalworthington Gardens.
The square shows cities in Tarrant County. The area in red is Arlington. Pantego and Dalworthington Gardens are the areas surrounded by Arlington.
Pantego, also known as the Town of Pantego, is approximately one square mile in size. It officially became a town in 1952. In 2010, it had a population of 2,394 people.
The only part of Pantego not surrounded by Arlington is the south side, which borders Dalworthington Gardens.
The area’s history goes back to 1542, where it’s believed that the DeSoto Expedition camped in the area. Fast forward 300 years to the 1840s, and Caddo Indians inhabited the area.
Near present-day Pantego, The Battle of Village Creek occurred in 1841 between Indians and white settlers. There is a Historical Marker here that details the event.
It is believed that Frederick Forney Foscue (1819–1906) befriended an Indian named Pantego. (Pantego means “lying wolf” or “stalking wolf.”) It isn’t known when or where they met, but the friendship seemed to impact Foscue.
According to the Town of Pantego’s website:
“When fellow tribesmen were moving to Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma, Indians stopped at the Foscue plantation. They demanded that Pantego accompany them. Pantego refused and was murdered on the spot.”
Mr. Foscue joined the Confederate Army and became a Captain. After the Civil War, he began to acquire land in modern-day Pantego. He was an early settler to the area and known as the first Pantego land developer. In 1883, he donated one acre of land to be used for a school. It’s believed that he requested the school be named “Pantego” in honor of his friend. The town began to form soon after and continued with the same name.
Because of his impact, Frederick Forney Foscue is considered “The Father of Pantego.” He died in 1906. He is buried in Parkdale Cemetery in Arlington.
Today, the town of Pantego has a small-town feel. It’s mostly residential, but the south part of town has many businesses.
Bicentennial Park is a small community park located in the town. It has a walking trail, playground, splash pad, and public art.
Pantego used to have a brewery — New Main Brewing Co. — but it closed after two years (2018-2020.) Negotiations with their landlord failed, although COVID-19 probably didn’t help.
Dalworthington Gardens (DWG)
DWG is about two square miles in size. In 2010, it had a population of 2,259 people. It’s mostly a residential area. DWG’s northern border hits Pantego. Other than that, it’s surrounded by Arlington.
Dalworthington’s name is a combination of nearby Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington. The city was initially envisioned as a colony.
It began in the 1930s with help from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor. Today, Roosevelt Drive is one of the main streets located in the city. It’s named in their honor.
In 1933, President Roosevelt introduced the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA.) While on a trip to Fort Worth, Mrs. Roosevelt visited the Arlington area and thought it might benefit from the program. It was one of five sites in Texas chosen for the program.
The NIRA was intended to stimulate economic recovery efforts from the Great Depression. It also promoted a subsistence homestead project. It wasn’t a relief program — applicants still had to make a downpayment and pay off the loan. But it would provide a rural place to live or farm, yet proximity to urban amenities.
In 1934, the Federal Government bought nearly 600 acres of property and cleared the land for 80 housing sites. Land was also set aside for a community house and park. Most of the construction was completed by May 1935.
It wasn’t paradise at first. There initially weren’t paved roads or property fencing. Access to clean water was a problem, along with utilities and housing workmanship. Although the housing had its setbacks, residents worked together to build a community. Conditions would gradually improve. Nevertheless, it helped many families afford a home when they may have otherwise not been able to.
By 1949, DWG residents petitioned to have the colony become a town. Later in 1968, the town became classified as a city.
Today, the community remains the only one from Roosevelt’s subsistence homestead project in Texas. The land area for the other four was incorporated into other towns or cities.
DWG started out as a homestead project. I don’t know if anyone 85 years ago thought it would still be around today. But it is. It survived with a unique history. It still has a rural-residential feel, literally in a large city.
Pantego & DWG – conclusion
Pantego and DWG share more than a border. They share the unique status of being surrounded by a much larger city. It’s unlikely that they will ever increase in land area. And, their small size suggests that their population will remain fairly constant. I can’t imagine Pantego and DWG ever becoming a permanent part of Arlington. They’re too unique. Yet, even if they’re not officially part of Arlington, they’re still part of the family.
Town of Pantego, TX, “About Pantego – History,” Town of Pantego official website, accessed January 11, 2021, https://www.townofpantego.com/history.
Stephanie P. Niemeyer, “Foscue, Frederick Forney,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 11, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/foscue-frederick-forney.
Herbert N. Antley, “Dalworthington Gardens, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 11, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/dalworthington-gardens-tx.
Carter, O.K. 2012. Caddos, Cotton and Cowboys: Essays on Arlington. Arlington, Texas. Arlington Women’s Club.
Post and photos by Jason S. Sullivan, 01-12-21