Today's Garland combines many smaller rural communities and townships, the earliest of which was Duck Creek. Rooted from pioneer arrivals in the 1840's and 50's, Duck Creek's business district originally rested on the west side of the creek of the same name near the present Avenue B crossing. When rail lines appeared ca. 1886, they ran north and east of Duck Creek. The GC&SF railway even developed the competing town of Embree, whose commercial establishments pivoted around their depot, then located near the present Avenue C. crossing of that line.
After Old Duck Creek, which had lost its post office to Embree, suffered a destructive fire in 1887, some of it's business and professional people relocated to Embree. But others laid out the town of New Duck Creek, roughly located north of the present square. Following a year of fierce competition and some enmity, the post office was relocated to a mid point, and the two townships combined under the banner of Garland. The city incorporated in 1891 with a population approximating 500.
The new entity was named after Augustus H. Garland, Attorney General in the administration of President Grover Cleveland. Garland was a former Arkansas governor and senator who had gained renown through his efforts to regain the right to practice law as a pardoned Confederate. He had become the first southerner to hold cabinet rank since the Civil War. No evidence indicates that Mr. Garland ever presented himself here; in fact, he may not have visited other places named for him outside Arkansas, but he did provide a name that both Duck Creek and Embree could embrace.
With the fight behind them Garlandites consolidated their efforts toward building a solid agricultural community. Local farmers primarily raised cotton, various grains, onions and livestock, and Garland's business center served rural customers from miles around. The city dwellers included a home-owned power pant when they installed water and sewer lines in 1923. Agricultural dominance, however, began to erode in the late 1930's, when industries first became attracted by Garland's resources. War production gave the city its biggest economic and population boost, and by 1950 the census numbered 10,291 souls.
Garland spent the next 50 years developing its available land area around its diversified industrial base. As agricultural activity declined, a multitude of new businesses and industries arose. Rural communities, such as Centerville, Pleasant Valley and Rose Hill, were absorbed in the process. But even as it grew, the city retained the character of a family town full of cultural, religious, social and children's sports activities.