DeSoto (De Soto) is twelve miles south of Dallas on Interstate highways 35 and 20, U.S. Highway 67, and Ten Mile Creek in southern Dallas County. It is bordered by Lancaster to the east, Glenn Heights to the south, Cedar Hill to the west, and the junction of the city limits of Duncanville and Dallas to the north. The community is located on the original land grants of W. Caldwell, Z. Heath, T. Rhodes, and C. Parks. It was founded in the 1840s by the Parks, Cheshier, Ramsey, and Johnson families. Parks is thought to be the first, and his land grant is the location around which the community developed. The Ramseys' daughter Mary, who was born in 1846, was reportedly the first white child born west of the Trinity. She eventually married another settler named F. M. Hamilton and lived in the area until she was ninety-four years old. In 1848 T. J. Johnson built the first general store in DeSoto at the junction of what became Belt Line and Hampton roads, and the place became known as the Store. In 1850 Otway B. Nance built a farm in DeSoto that eventually became a Texas historic landmark.
By the 1870s a community developed around Johnson's store. S. E. Judah built a harness shop in the 1870s, and his son built a general store in 1898. In 1884 a post office was established and named DeSoto, either after Hernando De Soto (see MOSCOSO EXPEDITION) or a local resident, Dr. Thomas Hernando DeSoto Stewart. By 1885 the community had a population of 120, a general store, and a cotton gin. By 1890 only the general store remained, and the population had decreased to forty-one. The post office remained in service until 1906.
DeSoto had seven businesses and a population of ninety-seven in 1930. The town was incorporated in 1949 and by 1950 had a population of 300 and eight businesses. In 1960 DeSoto had a population of 1,969 and twenty businesses. As Dallas expanded southward, DeSoto continued to grow and became a city of commuters. An estimated 90 percent of DeSoto's workforce commuted to jobs in Dallas or Grand Prairie. By 1970 DeSoto had 6,617 residents and seventy-one businesses. This growth brought about improvements to the municipal infrastructure, including road and park construction and a new water and sewerage system. Industrial, commercial, and residential construction increased also. A newspaper, the DeSoto News Advertiser, has been published since 1977. In 1980 DeSoto had 168 businesses and a population of 15,538. By 1984 the number of businesses had increased to 360, and in 1991 the population was 30,544. This growth is supported by civic facilities that include a police station, three fire stations, thirty-seven public parks, one public library, and ten public schools. In 2000 the population was 37,646, with 1,203 reported businesses.