In the spring of 1881, the Chicago, Texas & Mexican Central Railroad was completed, connecting Dallas with Cleburne. In the summer of that same year, Charles P. Nance stepped off the train into a field of sunflowers at a place known as Duncan Switch.
In October 1881, the U.S. Postal Service gave Nance authorization to create a post office, and he called it "Duncanville." Within a few months, mail would begin to arrive by rail.
By 1883, the Gulf Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad purchased the Chicago, Texas & Mexican Central Railroad and constructed a two-room depot at the rail switch. The community now had two general stores, a congregational hall and a post office — and plans for a cotton gin and a new schoolhouse were being discussed.
During the early 1940s, World War II came to Duncanville, and began a new period of change and growth in the area. The Army Air Corps leased land in southwest Dallas County for use as a landing field for flight training. In 1943, the federal government constructed a military complex.
By the war's end, many local farmers had begun to sell off parcels of land for subdivisions, and the City of Dallas began to expand its boundaries.
When Dallas annexed land within two miles of the city, local residents voted to officially make Duncanville a city on August 2, 1947.
During the 1950s, the majority of newcomers who came to Duncanville arrived as government dependents. The Duncanville military base was now a command site for North American Air Defense, as well as a NIKE missile launch site for North Texas. Duncanville had grown to 3,000 residents.
A new subdivision, Fairmeadows, was built, and it featured reasonably priced homes that adjoined two shopping centers. By 1964, Fairmeadows helped the population of Duncanville grow to 10,000 residents.
Pieces of Duncanville's history can be seen in the Duncanville Historical Park located on Wheatland Road in Armstrong Park.