Much of Which I saw and Part of Which I Was
B. B. Paddock
This 2010 facsimile of the rare first edition is limited to 300 copies. B.B. Paddock created this work just after 1900, perhaps 1905 or 1906. It provides early Fort Worth history and is a necessity for a Fort Worth collection.
Albert L. Peters
P.O. Box 136814
Fort Worth, TX 76136
E-Mail: [email protected]
I purpose writing a brief history of Fort Worth from the time of its selection as a military post down to the time within the memory of men now living, who may be interested in the struggles and sacrifices made by those who laid the foundation of the City. I purpose giving somewhat in detail the work of these patriotic, public-spirited men to whom the present citizenship of the City owe so much.
I am inspired to do this for the reason that so much credit is given by the uninformed to men to whom no credit is due and so much is withheld from those who bore the burden and heat of the day in times that tried men’s souls, and to whom no sacrifice was too great, no demand upon their time or purse too much, if it could be shown that Fort Worth was to derive a benefit from the expenditure of time or money. The good that men do should live after them. But men should not have the credit for deeds done in the body when the deeds were never performed. Obituary notices are useful as examples to the living, but to be useful they should be true. Men should not be given credit, even though it may make pleasant reading to the families of the deceased, for things they did not do and perhaps had not the means of doing, no matter how willing they may have been.
In the early days of this city there was among its citizenship a coterie of men, the like of which were never found in any other community. Their first and only thought was for the upbuilding of the city. Some of these men are still living, but most of them have gone to their reward. It is greatly to be regretted that all could not have lived to see the culmination of their efforts and to participate in the prosperity which they helped to bring to the city.
In what follows there shall be found “nothing extenuate, nor aught set down in malice.” It will be “an o’er true tale” as I saw it I do not hope that this little volume will be complete but that it may serve as a foundation for some future historian to erect a structure as voluminous and veracious as Gibbon’s Rome or Hume and Smollett’s England. As far as it goes it may be regarded more authentic and reliable than Knickerbocker’s History of New York.
FIRST SETTLEMENT OF FORT WORTH.
At the close of the war with Mexico, General Winfield Scott sent a troop of the Second Dragoons in command of Major Ripley A. Arnold to North Texas to establish a post to protect the then sparsely settled territory from the forays of the Indians which then inhabited this section.
Major Arnold selected this as the most central point for this purpose.
The post was first called Camp Worth in honor of Brigadier General William Jennings Worth. It was established on the sixth day of June, 1849. On November 14th, 1849, the name was changed to Fort Worth, and it was abandoned on the 17th day of September, 1853, and the troops stationed here were sent to Fort Belknap, about a mile from the present site of the town of Belknap. There was never a fort at this point and the only buildings were the barracks at the head of and a little west of Houston street.
The first settlement in the county of any magnitude grew up about the military post and on its abandonment the buildings were used as stores by those who had settled near the post. Among those who were in business here were Col. Abe Harris, who at this writing still lives in the city, the late James F. Ellis and G. P. Farmer who subsequently located a farm about twelve miles south of the city.
When the soldiers left there was only a meagre country population in the vicinity; barring a few supply trains no current of trade had yet begun to flow through this section of Texas. There were no cattle trails; nothing permanent to arouse enthusiasm for this straggling settlement on the Trinity Bluff and the seed of civilization planted and protected during the brief military occupancy, might, on good and relative grounds, have experienced the same blight that befell Fort Phantom Hill and Fort Belknap.
But this nucleus of citizens, among whom, besides those named, were E. M. Daggett, C. M. Peak and John Peter Smith, whose names later became associated with every enterprise in which the city was interested.
The County was created by the Legislature in December, 1849, and the county seat was located at Birdville. The spirit of conquest was rife in the veins of the early settlers and at the instance of Capt. Daggett and others, the Legislature was induced to permit an election to decide upon the county seat. Birdville was at that time 3the larger place. Had the election been untrammeled it would have probably remained the seat of government for many years. The citizens of Birdville charged, and there seems good reason for the charge, that the election of Fort Worth was brought about by the votes of Sam Woody, the first settler of Wise County, and the members of his family. Enough was shown to induce the Legislature to order a second election. About 1855, A. J. Walker who lived a few miles northeast of Birdville was a member of the State Senate. He was instrumental in having a bill passed providing for another election. This occurred about the year 1860. The exact date is not accessible to the writer. By this time the population of Fort Worth had increased to sufficient numbers to enable it to make good its claim as the proper place for the court house. Birdville abandoned its claim and endeavored to defeat Fort Worth by casting its votes and throwing its influence for “The center of the county” which would be a little nearer Birdville than Fort Worth. The vote resulted in 301 for “the center” and 548 for Fort Worth and the vexed question which has cost the lives of some and the expenditure of about $30,000 was settled for all time.
ABOUT THE INDIANS.
An effort was made in 1873 to remove all the hostile Indians from Texas to the Reservation in the Indian Territory. The removal was accomplished but it was not easy to keep them there, and there were occasional raids across the border and into the settlements. The exact date of the last foray is not accessible at this writing, but it was made as far south as Jack and Young counties, just west of Los Valley where James C. Loving had a ranch and his residence. The foray was led by two Indian Chiefs, Santanta and Big Tree. They fell upon a wagon train conveying supplies to Fort Griffin which stood about fourteen miles northwest of the present town of Albany. It was owned by Capt. Julian Feild, of this city, and Henry Warren, of Weatherford. The train was destroyed; the wagons burned; the mules and horses taken away and several men killed. A wooden monument marks the place where the encounter took place. Troops were dispatched after the savages and the two chiefs were captured. They were tried for murder at Jacksboro and convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted by Edmund J. Davis, then Governor of Texas, to confinement in the penitentiary for life. Santanta was afterwards pardoned and at last accounts was still living on the Reservation near Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
On August 16th, 1874, another raid was made into Texas, coming as far as Veal’s station about three miles west of the present town of Springtown, where one man was killed. Two others were killed by the same raiders on the Weatherford and Jacksboro road, about half 4way between the two towns. This was the last appearance of hostile Indians in this part of the State. There were other forays on the borders of New Mexico subsequent to that time.
CREDIT TO WHOM CREDIT IS DUE.
When it comes to calling the roll of patriots who worked so long and faithfully for the upbuilding of the city one ventures upon dangerous ground. The memory is at times treacherous and some of the best and truest are liable to be over-looked. But that their names may be enshrined in the hearts of the people and perpetuated by this modest record of the time the chance will be taken. It would be well to dig up the tax rolls of that day and make a copy of it, for every man in the city with but one or two conspicuous exceptions was ready at any and all times to spend and be spent for the good of Fort Worth.
But there were a few who were conspicuous by their liberality whose names may be mentioned without any invidious distinction as to others equally worthy. The first of these are the men who donated three hundred and twenty acres of land lying along the southern border of the city to the Texas & Pacific Railway Company. These men were E. M. Daggett, Major K. M. VanZandt, Thos. J. Jennings and H. G. Hendricks. They were the ones to set the pace for their fellow citizens.
Of those who contributed of their time and money without stint may be mentioned those whose names are recorded above, who did not stop with this princely donation and claim that they had done their share; to these should be added John Peter Smith, Walter A. Huffman, B. C. Evans, Joseph H. Brown, C. M. Peak, W. H. Davis, William J. Boaz, James F. Ellis, M. G. Ellis, H. C. Holloway, J. J. Jarvis. M. B. Loyd. W. W. Dunn. W. P. Burts. E. J. Beall, George Newman, William B. Young, W. B. Tucker, Stephen Terry, Jesse Jones, Dr. J. F. Shelton, A. J. Chambers, B. L. Samuels, John Hanna, Porter King, W. A. Darter, Sam Seaton, Sam Evans, J. C. Terrell and others. These are they who were here before the advent of the railroad and many of them before there was any talk of a railroad. When it was definitely settled that the road would be constructed to this city the people commenced at once to reach out after other enterprises and it may be truthfully stated that every man, woman and child helped with time and money. Their names are enshrined in the heart of every patriotic citizen of Fort Worth.
Among those who came to Fort Worth prior to the advent of the railroad and who remained and gave of their time and money to advance the interests of the city to the best of their ability and who witnessed the culmination of their desires may be mentioned Thos. A. Tidball, Zane-Cetti, C. K. Fairfax, J. J. Roche, F. J. Tatum, J. S. Godwin, Jas. H. Field, Dahlman brothers, S. P. Greene, D. C. Bennett, Geo. Mulkey, S. H. Hulkey, T. C. Boulware, the Pendery brothers, P. J. Bowdry, J. Q. Sandige, J. Y. Hogsett, Jno. F. Swayne, 5T. J. Peniston, D. B. Gardner, Z. E. B. Nash, I. Carb, J. M. Peers, John Nichols, Jere Marklee, J. F. Cooper, D. C. Bennett, S. T. Bibb, W. T. Maddox, and his brothers R. E., E. P., J. H. and a cousin J. M. who now resides in Jack County. There are others, but their names do not occur to the writer at this time.
Upon the arrival of the railroad and soon after, they came by the carload. Among the most prominent, and who have been most active in the upbuilding of the city may be mentioned W. G. Turner, J. B. Burnside, A. J. Roe, Willard Burton, A. S. Dingee, J. M. Hartsfield, A. J. Anderson, J. L. Cooper, J. W. Spencer, A. E. Want, E. H. Keller, Neil P. Anderson, W. G. Newby, W. F. Sterley, C. J. Swasey. Here, again, a lapse of time and defective memory must be the excuse for not mentioning others equally worthy.
FIRST PROMINENCE OF THE CITY.
Fort Worth first came into prominence in the year 1872. when Col. Thomas A. Scott, who had come into the ownership and control of the Texas & Pacific Railway, in company with Col. John W. Forney, the editor and proprietor of the “Chronicle” of Philadelphia, made a trip across Texas for the purpose of selecting a route for this road across the State. Colonel Forney wrote voluminous letters to his paper describing in great detail what he saw and how he was impressed with the resources of the State. He afterwards wrote and published a pamphlet entitled “What I Saw in Texas” which had a wide circulation.
In these letters and in the pamphlet he had much to say about Fort Worth. In fact, he gave it more space than any other point in the State, and predicted for it a brilliant future. He did not hesitate to predict that it would be the most prominent place in the northern part of the State. It being generally known that he was the guest of Colonel Scott on the trip, it was quite natural that his readers should reach the conclusion that he reflected the opinion of the President of the Railway Company.
A secondary purpose of the trip across Texas and the presence of Mr. Forney, then among the foremost editorial writers of the day, was to educate the public and to influence it in favor of a grant or subsidy from the general government in aid of the construction of the road, such as had been granted to the Union Pacific Railroad. A bill was then pending in Congress for this purpose. Forney’s paper as well as others in the east set forth with great emphasis that this line would be of greater benefit to the nation at large than the more northern route, inasmuch as it was in a more southerly latitude and would be open for traffic every day of the year, and would not be snowbound as it was contended the more northern line would be at certain seasons of the year.
Col. Scott commenced the active work of construction westward from Marshall and Jefferson immediately on his return from the 6Pacific slope and prosecuted it with all possible energy. He had associated with him General Grenville M. Dodge who was the chief engineer of the Union Pacific and Mr. Frank S. Bond who was the financial director of the same road. The road was constructed as fast as men and money could do the work and every argument that could be devised was put forth to persuade representatives in Congress that this line was of prime necessity to the commerce of the country.
Representatives of the company attended every convention of importance that was held in the country and resolutions were adopted urging Congress to grant the southern route the same concessions that had been given the northern line.
Meanwhile Col. Scott and his associates were bending every energy to secure capital for the construction of the road. In the summer of 1873, Scott went to Europe on this mission. It was reported, from what was regarded as reliable sources, that he had interested English capital in the enterprise and every one in North Texas was rejoicing in his success. It was stated that so confident was Col. Scott that he had provided a dinner at which all who were in London, interested in the enterprise, participated in celebrating his success. While the dinner was in progress a cablegram was received announcing the suspension of the financial house of Jay Cooke & Co. This firm was the financial house of the general government at that time. It was they who had carried on the negotiations for the United States during the war and who had handled and marketed the bonds issued to support the armies of the United States in that great contest. This had given it the widest reputation throughout the world and its failure wrought havoc in financial circles everywhere. Very naturally it put an end to Scott’s negotiations and he returned to this country very much dejected but not at all dismayed or discouraged.
It was a dark day for Fort Worth. The news fell upon this city like a thunder bolt from a clear sky. From the highest point of expectancy the people descended into the lowest depths of despondency.
When the work of the road had reached a point west of its eastern terminal this side of Marshall, Fort Worth commenced to grow. People came to the city from all points, but more numerously from Kansas and Missouri. But they came from everywhere and bought property, built houses and engaged in business. From the fall of 1872 to that of 1873, Fort Worth grew from a little hamlet of a few hundred into a bustling city of three or four thousand. Rents were fabulous and business in all lines was active. Fortunes were made in real estate and corner lots would double in value in a night.
But the first day of September, the day of the suspension of 7Jay Cooke & Co. told another story. Values declined with as much rapidity as they had grown up. People who had invested their money and paid a part in cash and gave their notes for the remainder; who had commenced the erection of houses that they were never to see finished; who had ordered and in many instances received stocks of goods for which there was no market saw bankruptcy staring them in the face. Professional men from all over the country had left comfortable homes and good business to come here and begin their fortunes anew, faced inevitable ruin. The population dwindled as rapidly as it had grown. Stores and dwellings were vacated by the score. Business was at a standstill and gloom and despondency was everywhere visible. The road to the eastward was filled with people who were leaving the town in as large numbers as a few days previous they had sought it.
Meanwhile the road to which so many looked with expectancy and hope was nearing Dallas. It was completed to about Forney, east of Dallas, and the work was continued until the road reached Eagle Ford, six miles west of Dallas, when it was discontinued and the forces disbanded. Eagle Ford which had sprung into a town of more than a thousand was as quickly depopulated—the people for the most part moving back to Dallas. It was the opportunity for that city. Had the panic broken thirty days later so that it would have been practicable to have completed the road to Fort Worth before suspending operations, Dallas would have been a good county seat town instead of a thriving city and Fort Worth would today have been a city of a quarter of a million population.
The decimation of Fort Worth left here about one thousand people. Many of them stayed because they could not well get away. Others remained because their faith in the ultimate growth and preeminence of the city was not shaken by this disaster. They went to work with a grim determination to make a city of Fort Worth and how well they performed the task, many still living, well remember. Their names are household words with the older citizens and will never be forgotten. They are inscribed on the tablets of their memories never to be effaced.
A great number of those who left Fort Worth at that time went to Dallas. Some of them have become prominent factors in the development of the city. There was little or no business left to Fort Worth, except the spring cattle drive. That brought business to a few. The town was dead as far as business and development went. The grass literally grew in the streets. This was not a metaphor to indicate stagnation, but a doleful fact. There were more empty stores and vacant dwellings than those that were occupied. The people busied themselves principally with an effort to devise ways and means to secure a railroad and with politics in which they took an interest that was keen and constant. Town meetings were almost 8of weekly occurrence, and a sufficient number of resolutions were adopted and committees appointed to have built the embankments for a road to Dallas if they could have been utilized for that purpose. The faith of the people never wavered for a moment. It was with them constantly and under all circumstances. They never failed to sing the praises of the city and to predict its glorious future. Volumes were written and distributed telling of the glorious future that waited upon those who believed and remained with the city.
Among those who left the place when the cyclone hit it was a young lawyer who had come hither from Georgia. One Robert E. Cowart. He went to Dallas where he still lives and is one of the promoters of the scheme to get deep water in the Trinity at that place. Cowart was, and is, a bright man. He has a keen sense of the ridiculous and verbiage that can make an Indian’s hair curl. He lived long enough in Fort Worth to become acquainted with the peculiarities of its people. It was he who furnished the facts that gave Fort Worth the name of the “Panther City.” Knowing the conditions that prevailed here, he wrote a communication for the Dallas Herald, then the leading paper of North Texas, telling of the discovery of a panther in the streets of Fort Worth, and the action taken by the people.
No attempt was made to deny or explain the charge. It was accepted as a fact. The town was by common consent christened “Pantherville.” Every one named every thing “Panther.” There were “panther” stores, “panther” meat markets, “panther” saloons. The “Democrat,” a weekly paper, being printed here, secured a cut of a panther couchant, which it displayed at the head of the paper. A fire company organized at about that time named the engine the “Panther.” Two panther cubs were advertised for and secured by the local paper and they were housed in a handsome cage at the firehall. When, a little later, Dallas gave a big celebration or demonstration of some kind, the wagon with the panthers were taken over there, drawn by four white horses and escorted by forty good and patriotic citizens of the town clad in white uniforms. It was easily the most attractive part of the procession on that occasion. Fort Worth is still known as “Pantherville,” or the “Panther City.”
FORT WORTH BECOMES A CITY.
It has been stated that having nothing better to do—and there are few better things to do—the people took an active interest in politics. The first political movement of importance occurring about that time was the incorporation of the city. The Thirteenth Legislature in which Major K. M. VanZandt represented this county, passed an act authorizing the incorporation and the people were active in the preparation of a charter. Meetings were held almost nightly in the Court House for this purpose. The most active participants 9were John Y. Hogsett and Frank W. Ball who represented the conflicting opinions.
The charter was effective March 1st, 1873, and the first city election was held on the third day of April, following. The opposing candidates for mayor were Dr. W. P. Burts and P. M. Thurmond. The election was spirited and exciting. Most of the more recent citizens were for Thurmond who was himself a “new comer” as they were designated. When the votes were counted Dr. Burts was elected by a majority of 68 votes. The total vote being 366. The other officials were, Ed. Terrell, Marshal; N. M. Maben, Assessor and Collector; F. W. Ball, City Attorney and J. F. Swayne, City Secretary. The Board of Aldermen were, M. B. Loyd, M. D. McCall, A. Blakeney, W. J. Boaz and A. G. Rintleman. There were twenty candidates for alderman, all of whom but two have answered the last roll-call and passed over the river.
When the panic of 1873 fell upon the country the city government suspended business as far as practicable. The city officials agreed to draw no salaries and depended on the fees of the Mayor’s Court for whatever compensation they received. All ordinances were suspended except those pertaining to the preservation of the peace. The city election was held at the proper time when Dr. Burts was re-elected. The following comprised the official roster: T. M. Ewing, City Marshal; John S. Loving, Treasurer; Theo. Hitchcock, Secretary; G. F. Parnham, Collector and J. L. Chapman, City Attorney. The Aldermen were R. H. King. A. B. Fraser. W. H. Overton, W. H. Williams and Joseph H. Kane.
Among the defeated candidates for aldermen were: W. J. Boaz and J. P. Alexander, who stood for re-election and Col. J. P. Smith. Ewing resigned as City Marshal the following December and at an election for his successor T. P. Redding, N. M. Maben and H. P. Shiel were the candidates. Redding received 47 votes and Maben and Shiel 68 votes each. Another election was ordered and Redding withdrew and Columbus Fitzgerald, who had been the deputy of Ewing entered the race and went off with the goods.
At the succeeding election Capt. G. H. Day and J. F. Cooper were the rival candidates for mayor. Day received 206 votes and Cooper 136. J. C. Scott was elected City Attorney; C. McDougall. City Secretary; H. P. Shiel, City Marshal; G. F. Parmer, Assessor and Collector; J. S. Loving, Treasurer. The Board of Aldermen were W. T. Maddox, P. J. Bowdry, D. R. Crawford, Isaac Dahlman and J. J. Jarvis.
Much interest was manifested in this election because of the alleged profligacy of the former administration. The city debt had been run up to the mammoth sum of $4,952.91 and something had to be done or the city would be financially ruined. There was also a delinquent tax list of $19.85 showing a gross lack of attention to city affairs by those in authority.
The next city election was probably the most exciting political contest ever pulled off in this city. Capt. Day, who had been twice mayor, was not in favor with a large number of people and a herculean effort was made to defeat him. The aspirations of several good men was a serious handicap to their efforts. The contest finally settled down to Day, Larry Steele and John D. Templeton. When the ballots were counted it was found that Day and Templeton were tied and Steele three votes behind them. A second election was ordered and Steele was prevailed upon to withdraw. The result was another tie and a third election was ordered. Interested parties began to scan the poll lists to ascertain if any fraudulent or illegal votes had been cast when the discovery was made that B. B. Paddock, who then lived where he now does, at the corner of Jennings Avenue and Terrell Avenue, and Hugh W. Davis, who lived across the street from him where John Laneri now lives, and both of whom were outside of the city limits had voted in each election. Both were and had been active in city affairs and it had not occurred to them that they were not citizens of the city and allowed to participate in the election and Day was elected by three votes. Paddock and Davis had to behave themselves for a season and were threatened with prosecution for illegal voting every time they became too active in matters that did not concern them.
At the succeeding election Day was beaten by Col. R. E. Beckham, who held the place for two terms when he declined to again be a candidate. Col. John Peter Smith was chosen as his successor. This is enough on this subject, although there were other and interesting contests in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
A volume might be written upon the struggles that Fort Worth went through in securing the railroads that have contributed so much to its growth and success. Mention has already been made of the failure of the Texas & Pacific to reach Fort Worth on schedule time. A land grant had been given the road by the State conditioned on its being completed to Fort Worth by the first day of January, 1874. Generous and public Spirited citizens of the city, Maj. K. M. VanZandt, E. B. Daggett, Thos. J. Jennings and H. G. Hendricks had donated three hundred and twenty acres of land lying along the south side of the city upon the same conditions. As each succeeding legislature met, it extended the time for the construction of the road for a year, and the grant of lands by the above named citizens was renewed. This continued until the Constitutional Convention of 1875, which passed a resolution further extending the time until the adjournment of the First Legislature held under the new Constitution.
This session of the Legislature convened on the second Tuesday 11of January, 1876. Tarrant county was represented in that body by the Hon. Nicholas Darnell, who had also been a member of the Convention that framed the Constitution. In the meantime the people of this city despairing of the road being constructed by the company, undertook to build it themselves. They organized “The Tarrant County Construction Company” and subscribed to the capital stock, assuming to make payment in money, labor, material, forages, supplies or anything they had which possessed a marketable value. A contract was entered into with the railway company for the construction of the road from Eagle Ford, its western terminus, to this city. The contract was let to Roche Bros. & Tierney, of which firm J. J. Roche is still surviving and a citizen of the city. The work was commenced in the fall of 1875. Maj. K. M. VanZandt was the President of the company, John S. Hirshfield, Vice-President; Zane-Cetti, Secretary and W. A. Huffman, Treasurer.
When the Legislature assembled, the railway company made application for still another extension, but the opposition to it was very pronounced and had a large following. It soon became evident that a sufficient number of votes could not be secured to obtain the extension. The company had expended large sums of money in surveying and platting the lands in the west which amounted to sixteen sections per mile. It was too rich a prize to abandon without a struggle. The company took the contract off the hands of The Construction Company and put forth every energy to the construction of the road to this place with a view to its completion to this city before the Legislature should conclude its labors and adjourn. Gen. John C. Brown, of Tennessee, was the Vice-President of the company and he was on the ground day and night, if his services were necessary. Maj. D. W. Washburn, the chief engineer, was equally active and the contractor, Morgan Jones, is said not to have changed his clothes or gone regularly to bed during that period of unexampled activity. The Legislature had finished its labors early in July and the Senate had passed a concurrent resolution of adjournment and sent it over to the House. The rails of the Texas & Pacific were many miles east of Fort Worth. An adjournment of the Legislature meant the sacrifice of the magnificent landed domain which it had surveyed and platted. Then commenced the most strenuous parliamentary battle recorded in the history of this or any other state. The friends of the railway company refused to adopt the resolution to adjourn. The vote was so close that the absence of a single friend of the company might mean disaster. Gen. Darnell, the member from this county, was one of those who voted against adjournment and the General was sick. He was carried into the hall every day, on a cot, and voted “no” on the resolution to adjourn sine die; and voted “aye” on a motion to adjourn till the following day. This was continued for fifteen days. The rails had reached Sycamore 12creek just east of the city. Here was a long bridge and a still longer trestle. The latter has since been filled up. Bridge timbers and ties were converted into a crib upon which the rails were laid. Then the track left the grade and took to the dirt road which ran nearly parallel to the right of way. Ties were laid on the ground supported at either end by stones picked up from the right of way and the rails spiked to them. It was as crooked as the proverbial ram’s horn, but it bore up the rails. On the 19th day of July, at 11:23 o’clock a. m., the first train ran into Fort Worth. The train was in charge of Conductor W. R. Bell who still pulls a rope on the T. & P. and draws a monthly pay check therefrom. Mr. L. S. Thorne, subsequently Vice-President and General Manager, had charge of the head brake. Engineer Kelly, the father of Jack Kelly, who is now the Travelling Engineer of the Fort Worth & Denver, was at the throttle. The name of the rest of the crew is not obtainable at this writing.
It was a day of great rejoicing in Fort Worth and the gallant band who had manifested so much patriotism and faith and worked so assiduously for the city came into their reward. A great demonstration was had. Lacking cannon, anvils were obtained from the shop of W. H. Williams—for whom E. H. Kellar worked as an apprentice—Maj. J. J. Jarvis was chief of artillery with P. J. Bowdry as his able assistant. Business of every kind became active and the city commenced to grow and prosper. Buildings of every kind and character were in great demand and new ones were constructed as fast as men and money could erect them.
Pending the long wait for the Texas & Pacific other roads had been chartered and organized. The Fort Worth & Denver City was the first of these. It was organized August 12th, 1873. Its personnel came from the active forces of the M. K. & T. and the Texas & Pacific. The first President was J. M. Eddy, of the “Katy.” W. W. H. Lawrence was Vice-President and C. L. Frost, Secretary and Treasurer. It maintained its organization intact during the period of depression and was found ready for business when the effects of the panic were dissipated.
The Red River & Rio Grande from Denison to the Gulf was chartered as was the Fort Worth, Corsicana & Beaumont. The first of these was absorbed by the M. K. & T. and the latter was never given vitality, but later the Fort Worth & New Orleans was organized and built by Fort Worth people.
M. C. Hurley and J. J. Roche both still living and residents of the city were active participants in the promotion and construction of this road. It was later absorbed by the Southern Pacific System, where the ownership still remains.
The Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe railway entered Fort Worth on the second day of December, 1881. In the meantime work had commenced 13on the Fort Worth & Denver City railway, which was chartered as early as 1873, and the construction of which was delayed by the same panic that had wrought such havoc to the fortunes of the Texas & Pacific. The grading was commenced on this road in November, 1881, at or near the present station of Hodge. The first rail was laid the following February and the work was prosecuted with vigor until the road reached the State line at Texline, where it met the Denver & New Orleans, which had been constructed from the City of Denver.
The M. K. & T. came into Fort Worth over the rails of the Trans-Continental Division of the Texas & Pacific in the early part of 1880. It continues to use the same line, there being a joint ownership thereof.
On November 23d, 1886, work was commenced on The Fort Worth & Rio Grande, a company organized and promoted by the writer.
In 1887-8 the “Cotton Belt” made its advent into this city and in the 90’s came the Rock Island, the Frisco and the I. & G. N. The Trinity & Brazos Valley followed soon after using the Santa Fe rails between this city and Cleburne and later the Rock Island between this place and Dallas.
PUBLIC FREE SCHOOLS.
Many erroneous statements have been made from time to time about the organization of the Public Free School System of this city. Credit for this work has been ascribed by different persons to almost every one that ever had anything to do with the schools, and to some that never had anything to do with them, except, perhaps what they were paid to do out of the school funds of the city.
The truth of history makes it necessary to say that credit for the initial work essential to the organization is due more than to any one else to Major K. M. VanZandt, Dr. Carroll M. Peak and to the Fort Worth Democrat.
As early as January, 1877, the Democrat commenced a campaign for an independent school system in this city. It appealed to the City Council to order an election to ascertain whether the people desired to take control of the schools. The necessary resolutions were passed and an election ordered for the 28th day of February, with Dr. Peak as presiding officer. The election was held at which 90 votes were cast; 85 for and 5 against the proposition.
When it was proposed to organize, it was contended that a city of less than 10,000 population could not become an independent school district. As Fort Worth had less than half this number of people, the project was abandoned until the early part of 1882. All during the interim the persons mentioned were working in favor of the independent schools. It was known that there was opposition to the special tax for school purposes.
In February, 1882, the Council was again appealed to. This time to have a special census taken to ascertain if the requisite number of people lived in Fort Worth to authorize an independent district. The Council objected to this on account of funds. The writer of these lines agreed to do the work of supervision and Col. Smith and Maj. VanZandt furnished the money to pay the enumerators. The work was done efficiently for the sum of $300.00 and there were found in Fort Worth 11,136 people. A. E. Want was one of the enumerators who took this census. An election was then ordered to levy a special tax to supplement the school fund. Dr. Peak was on the streets, in season and out of season, urging the tax and it was approved by a very handsome majority. There were only 35 votes cast against the proposition, but from the noise made by the opponents, many more were anticipated.
The first School Trustees were J. J. Jarvis, John Hanna and W. H. Baldridge. The school opened in October with about 650 pupils.
An advertisement was inserted in the local papers and those in Saint Louis for a superintendent. There were thirty-two applications filed and some of the applicants came in person to interview the trustees. After much deliberation and discussion Prof. Alexander Hogg, of Marshall, was elected at a salary of $1200 per annum. He entered upon his duties at the Fall opening of the schools. The following teachers were selected:
Principals: Mrs. Clara Walden, Miss Sue Huffman and Thos. Lacey.
First Grade: Miss Jennie Oliver, Emma Hildebrand, Pinka Jones, Ida Rich and Mrs. M. L. Pearcy.
Second Grade: Miss Bessie Foute, Jennie Howard, R. Madden, Eva Haywood, Clara Burnham, Maud P. Johnson, Lula Dial and J. N. Lacey.
There was in the Available School Fund $3,906 and the Board announced that with the special tax levy a school could be conducted ten months in the year.
When the writer came to Fort Worth in October, 1872, the only church edifice in the town was that of the Christian church which occupied the center of the block bounded by Main and Houston, Fourth and Fifth streets. It was a small brick structure but of ample proportions to accommodate the small congregation that worshipped there. Elder J. A. Clark filled the pulpit.
The Presbyterians had no organization at that time, but one was perfected early in the year 1873 and there were services once a month by an evangelist who lived at Waxahachie. Very soon Rev. W. M. Kilpatrick, who was traveling through North Texas with his family, in a covered wagon, was called by this denomination and thereafter it had regular services in a room over Knight’s livery stable, which stood about the corner of Calhoun and Third streets.
The Methodists worshipped every Sunday morning and evening at the Court House with Rev. R. R. H. Burnett as pastor.
The Baptists under Rev. J. R. Masters met on the first and second Sundays at the Masonic building, which stood in the middle of Belknap street, near the corner of Elm.
The Cumberland Presbyterians held one meeting in the month at the same place with Rev. W. D. Wear as pastor.
The Catholics met on the last Sunday of the month at the residence of Mr. Scott, on Main street, Father Parrier being their priest.
On May 15th, 1874, the Methodists commenced the erection of a place of worship at the corner of Fourth and Grove streets, where they remained until their present commodious and imposing structure was erected.
The Baptists started the building of their first church on the 15th day of August, 1874. The building was erected on the grounds where the City Hall now stands.
In May, 1877, the Presbyterians commenced the erection of a commodious edifice at the corner of Fourth and Jones streets. B. B. Paddock, J. P. Alexander, J. M. Hartsfield, S. P. Greene and J. C. Scott composed the building committee. It was described by a local writer of the day as “handsome and commodious.” It must have been, as its dimensions were 30×50 feet and would seat 350 people.
The Episcopalians seem to have left no record that is accessible of their early work, but it is known that they were here, though in small numbers. They must have made up in enthusiasm what they lacked in numbers for it is recorded that on November 23d, 1877, they purchased a lot at the corner of Rusk at Fifth street for the fabulous sum of $325.00 and announced that they would proceed to build a church edifice. They kept the promise. It was occupied for the first time on the 12th day of February, 1878. It was dedicated April 15th, 1878. It was reported to have a seating capacity of 280.
As an evidence of the change that time has wrought in church matters, it is recorded that the Rev. M. D. Fly tendered his resignation as pastor of the First Methodist church in September, 1878, giving as a reason for his action that he could not live on $275.00 per year. That must have been before W. J. Boaz joined the church and before George Mulkey made his “stake.”
Fort Worth Lodge, Number 148, A. F. & A. M., is the largest and wealthiest Masonic lodge in the state. It was constituted April 14th, 1854, “Under Dispensation” issued by M. W. Grand Master Wm. M. Taylor on the 18th day of March, 1854, and chartered January 18th, 1855. Julian Feild was the first Worshipful Master and John Peter Smith its first Secretary. Its first home was a two story 16brick structure which stood in the middle of Belknap street, at the intersection of Elm street. The lower story was used for school and church purposes. The writer of these pages is the Senior Past Master of the Lodge at this time. W. H. Feild, the present Secretary has filled that position for about thirty years, the last twenty-five of which have been consecutive.
There was a small lodge of the I. O. O. F., but no record of its official roster is accessible to the writer at this time.
KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS.
The first meeting held to perfect an organization of a Lodge of Knights of Pythias was on July 23d, 1877.
Queen City Lodge No. 21 was organized August 17th, 1877, with G. M. Otten, P. C.; T. S. Levy, C. C.; Max Elser, V. C.; Chas. Gay, M. of A.
Red Cross Lodge No. 14 was organized February 26th, 1881, with S. Rosenfield, P. C.; W. R. Gause, C. C.; C. K. Fairfax, V. C.; H. P. Purnell, M. of A.
The lodges at once took up the matter of the erection of a Castle Hall. Committees were appointed and subscriptions obtained as far as possible and a bond and mortgage placed on the property for $12,000, bearing twelve per cent interest.
The corner stone was laid on the sixth day of June, 1881, with impressive ceremonies under the direction of Supreme Chancellor Justin H. Rathbone, of Washington City.
The lodges formed in procession at the corner of Fourth and Main streets and marched to Weatherford street, thence to Houston, thence to Fourth, thence to Main, thence to Third at the corner of which the Castle Hall was to be erected.
C. K. Fairfax was the Grand Marshal. Sir Knight Rathbone rode in a carriage handsomely decorated with the colors of the order and on either side of the carriage rode two knights in full armor. These were Knight Louis J. Elser, of Corsicana, and Knight E. M. Alvord, of Red Cross Lodge.
Arriving at the site the ceremony of laying the corner stone was had by Knight Justin H. Rathbone. Knight R. E. Beckham of Queen City Lodge delivered the oration.
The following articles were placed in the corner stone: Roster of Queen City Lodge; Roster of Red Cross Lodge; Names of Officers of Supreme Lodge; Names of Officers of the Grand Lodge; Pieces of gold, silver and paper currency and copies of the papers printed in the city.
At night an interesting and instructive lecture was delivered by Knight Rathbone at the Presbyterian church.
Interest on the bonded debt was met promptly and at their maturity were taken up by a new bond for a much smaller amount 17at a lower rate of interest. This was the first Castle Hall built in the World.
The work of supplying the city with water was agitated early in its history, but nothing definite was accomplished. The necessity for fire protection was imperative as the city was composed exclusively of wooden structures. Cisterns were sunk in the streets, one on Main street between First and Second; one on Houston street north of Weatherford. These were kept filled from rain water as far as possible and were guarded with exceeding great care that the water should not be wasted or diverted from the purpose for which it was intended. Water for domestic purposes was delivered by wagon and was obtained from the Clear Fork and from the Cold Spring on the Trinity, on the Birdville road.
Numerous propositions were submitted to the people at different times, and varied in cost from $24,600 to $50,000 and provided for from three quarters of a mile to one mile of pipe line.
It was not until May, 1882, that a franchise was granted by the city to a company composed of B. B. Paddock, M. B. Loyd, Zane-Cetti, John D. Templeton and W. P. Wilson for the construction of a water works system. It provided for about six miles of mains and forty fire hydrants. Mr. Paddock had enlisted the influence and interest of the Holly Water Works Company, of Lockhart, New York, who were represented in Saint Louis by J. S. Drake and M. C. Orton, who agreed to build the works and install the pumps for a specified sum. After the franchise was granted it was transferred to a company composed of Morgan Jones, E. P. Cowen and Henry McLaughlin who complied with the terms of the franchise and the works were constructed. They subsequently sold the works to the city.
On August 17th, 1878, Mr. J. J. Peters made the announcement that artesian water could be found under Fort Worth. He showed his faith by his works and proceeded to sink a well in the Southwestern portion of the city, not far from Sixth and Florence streets. His prediction was verified by a fine flow of water that spouted many feet above the surface. He proceeded at once to sink a second well on Peach street, near Hampton, on the property of John Nichols, which was also a pronounced success. In fact it was a much stronger flow than that found in the first well. From that time on there were a number of wells sunk and almost the entire city depended on the artesian wells for the domestic supply. The history of the water works system of Fort Worth for later years is known to all well informed men and need not be elaborated here.
On September 6th, 1876, a franchise was granted to a company composed of J. P. Smith. K. M. VanZandt, W. A. Huffman, Morgan Jones and Geo. Noble for a street railway from the court house 18to the Texas & Pacific depot. The contract for its construction was let to Morgan Jones and the work commenced on November 17th. The first car ran over the line on Christmas day and Mr. Walter A. Huffman officiated as conductor. The cars were about the size of an ordinary street omnibus and were propelled by one mule something larger than a west Texas jack rabbit. That the business was not very profitable is gathered from the report of the first year’s business, which shows that the gross receipts were $22.00 per day, showing the transportation of 440 persons each day.
In 1882 there was a spurt in street railway construction that is probably without a parallel. Every one that had any money, and some who had none, undertook to build a street railway. The two most important lines were the Queen City Street Railway and the Rosedale Street Railway with the road to Mistletoe Heights as a good third. The latter was constructed from Jennings avenue out Thirteenth street to Ballinger, thence south across the railway to Terrell Avenue, or in that neighborhood and thence west under the Fort Worth & Rio Grande to the Heights. These were where Westmoreland Place is now located. Then there was the Polytechnic Heights Street Railway and another across the river and way out towards Decatur somewhere. The present Traction Company runs over these two latter, and it owns all that was found of value of the Rosedale and Queen City lines. Then there was the “nine-mile belt” that ran all around over the South Side, crossed the Katy and Santa Fe tracks on Magnolia Avenue and wandered around through the Seventh ward somewhere.
Fort Worth was the first city in the United States to have all of its street railways equipped with electric appliances.
On August 31st, 1876, the first gas company was organized with J. P. Smith as President; John Nichols, Treasurer and J. Q. St. Clair, Secretary. A franchise was granted the company. On November 26th. a contract was entered into with John Lockwood, of New Jersey, to construct the works and lay the mains. Some idea of the extent of the plant can be gathered from the fact that it was to cost $20,000. The plant was added to from time to time, as the demand for light increased, until the entire business section was supplied with gas. The works were finally sold to a new company of which Mr. H. C. Scott, of St. Louis, was the principal owner, and it remained under his control until sold to the Fort Worth Light & Power Co., and it in turn transferred the property to the present company.
It would be a harrowing tale to relate all the efforts made to provide a packing plant for this city. The Fort Worth Democrat, which had earned a reputation for “seeing things,” first made the prediction on April 25th, 1875, that some day Fort Worth would be 19a large producer of refrigerated meats for export. It harped on this in season and out of season and watched for every opportunity to advance the project. The editor, learning that a man was in Dallas negotiating to establish a plant there, went to that city and formed his acquaintance. It was learned that the Dallas people did not regard the project with much favor. The man, whose name was Richardson only asked that the city make a donation of six acres of ground for the plant. He was told that if he would come to Fort Worth that he could select the ground and that a deed would be delivered to him in an hour. He came and looked over the situation and selected the lands where the Medlin Mill now stands. Fortunately the land belonged to John Peter Smith and it was only necessary to tell Smith what was in the wind and the deed was forthcoming. He erected a small packing plant on the land now occupied by the Medlin Flouring Mills. As he only essayed to kill and refrigerate hogs, and as there were very few hogs in Texas, the plant was shortlived. He soon sold it and went out about Cisco and put in a plant to make plaster from gypsum.
Shortly after this a man by the name of Higgs came to the city and in a few days secured capital to erect a refrigerating plant in the southeast part of the city. He killed a cargo of cattle and sent them to Saint Louis, but that proved like sending coals to Newcastle and his venture was doomed to failure. He sold his plant to Mr. Isaac Dahlman of the firm of Dahlman Bros., the first clothing merchants in the city. He killed cattle and sent them to Liverpool by way of Galveston, but they were so long on the way that they did not arrive in good condition. This ended the third attempt but did not dismay the people of Fort Worth. They believed that this was to become a packing house center and in 1890 thirty men got together and each agreed to put in one thousand dollars and purchase some lands and put up more money, share and share alike, as it was needed. Mr. H. C. Holloway was selected to manage the affairs of the company and he bought lands where the present plants are situated and proceeded to build fences and lots and later on a small packing house. It had a capacity of 250 cattle and 1000 hogs per day. About this time John R. Hoxie came to Fort Worth from Chicago and as it was thought he knew all about the industry, he was induced to put in more money, buy more land and increase the capacity of the yards.
He too made a failure and the plant after a precarious existence was sold to Messrs. Simpson and Niles of Boston, neither of whom were practical packers. Mr. Niles was a business man and under his management with the assistance of Mr. H. A. Judd, still a citizen of Fort Worth, the plant earned money. The owners recognized the fact that the plant did not meet the requirements of the times and with the assistance of some of the public spirited people of the city they enlisted 20the interest of Armour and Swift and secured the present establishments. Most of the thirty men who put the first money into the plant surrendered their holdings as gifts to make the deal go through.
The corner stone of the new buildings was laid on the 13th day of March, 1902, in the presence of a large concourse of the citizens of the city. Just a year thereafter the first cattle were killed in the new houses. At that time Mr. Armour made the prediction that in ten years Fort Worth would be the second market for cattle in the United States. His prediction was verified.
The first attempt to organize a fire company in the city occurred in April, 1873. A meeting for that purpose was called at the court house by the Democrat. When the night arrived it brought with it a “blue norther.” There was not sufficient interest in the matter to justify the people in facing the storm and the only person present was the editor of the paper. The following is his report of the meeting:
“Pursuant to notice given in the last number of the Democrat, we proceeded to the court house last Tuesday evening at precisely half past seven, to meet the citizens in mass meeting, for the purpose of becoming a member of the Fort Worth Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. We took our position on the steps of that edifice, and although the stone was a little cool, we heroically held our position until patience ceased to be a virtue. Not a soul put in an appearance. Several who had promised faithfully to be present forgot to keep the appointment.
Determined to carry to a successful completion every project we take in hand, we went to work to organize the meeting. A chairman is essential to any meeting. They are necessary to keep the meeting in order, and give the assemblage proper dignity. We were unanimously chosen chairman and took our seat amid the most profound silence. But a difficulty, wholly unexpected now presented itself. A secretary to keep the record of the proceedings is equally indispensable. There was no one to make secretary. Not to be thwarted by minor obstacles, we finally with much reluctance, consented to assume this arduous position also. Some one was needed to manage the finances and take care of the funds. That being our forte, we assumed the responsible position of treasurer. We then appointed ourself a committee of five to draft resolutions. The resolutions agreeably to an ancient custom at meetings of this kind had been prepared by a friend. We immediately proceeded to adopt them as a whole without debate.
We have procured all the machinery necessary for a first class Hook and Ladder company, viz: a five foot step ladder, a walking stick with a hook on the end, a pint cup and a wet blanket and are 21now ready to extinguish fire in any part of the city on short notice. All orders promptly executed, day or night.
Dallas can no longer claim to be ahead of Fort Worth. The Herald and News are complaining because they have no fire brigade. Send your orders to Fort Worth, neighbor. If you will let us know a day or two before you intend to have a fire, we will be on hand with our machine.
We are going to give a ba(w)ll pretty soon for the relief of the sufferers by the first fire. Of course we are going to have a fire or there would be no necessity for our Hook and Ladder company, and when there is a fire, of course some one will suffer. Then you will know how it is yourself, dear people.”
A second attempt made about a month later was more successful. A goodly number answered the call and a company was organized with Capt. S. P. Greene as President, B. B. Paddock, Secretary and William T. Field as Foreman. There were about sixty members, mostly clerks and mechanics, on the roll and they made up a purse and ordered a hook and ladder truck with all the necessary accoutrements. A series of entertainments were given to raise the funds at one of which a vote was taken at so much per vote for the most popular young lady in the city, who should have the privilege of naming the company. The leading contestants were Miss Sallie Johnson, daughter of Col. M. T. Johnson and Miss Anna T. Harper, a sister of Mrs. B. B. Paddock. Miss Johnson was the successful candidate and the company was named in honor of her father the M. T. Johnson Hook and Ladder Company. It remained as No. 1 until 1893, when the paid fire department was organized, when it passed off the stage. There was never a more enthusiastic and successful band of fire-fighters.
On October 17th, 1876, when city airs were assumed, an engine company was organized, of which Capt. M. B. Loyd was president. He was also the first president of the Fort Worth Fire Department, which was organized after the second company came into existence, and was the accredited delegate to the meeting of the State Fire Department. Other companies followed as the necessity arose and Fort Worth long enjoyed the reputation of having the finest department in the State. When the city took over the management of the fire department and put the men on the payroll, the volunteers were given preference over all applicants and some of them are in service at this writing. When it became a paid fire department, Mr. N. H. Lassiter was the President, and the last meeting was a most affecting occasion. Many of the old “fire-fighters” were opposed to disbanding the volunteer service and laid down the responsibility with great reluctance.
“’Twere long to tell what steeds gave o’er,
As swept the hunt through Campus-more.”
It would be an almost endless task and one the writer will not essay to tell the history of the newspapers of this city. It has been the graveyard of the hopes and aspirations of ambitious men, who without capital, and oft times without experience, have undertaken the work of furnishing an unappreciative public with a newspaper in Fort Worth.
It was on March 7th, 1860, that Fort Worth had its first paper. It was started by a man by the name of Cleveland and was called the Enterprise. How long it continued, and what became of it the writer has been unable the ascertain.
The second attempt was made in October, 1871, when Maj. K. M. VanZandt, John Hanna, W. H. Overton, Capt. Sam Evans and Junius W. Smith bought from Maj. J. J. Jarvis the press and material of a paper at Quitman in Wood county and moved here and started the Fort Worth Democrat. In October, 1872, they sold it to Capt. B. B. Paddock, who assumed management and direction of the paper on the 1st day of January, 1873. He continued the publication until June 30th, 1882, when it was merged with the Live Stock Journal, owned by George B. Loving, and changed to the Fort Worth Gazette, which during its continuance was confessedly the best paper ever printed in this State.
On July 4th, 1876, the Democrat started the first daily paper, coming out as a morning paper on the morning of the Centennial year, unannounced and unheralded, without a single subscriber or a line of advertising. The audacity of the enterprise made a favorable impression on the public-spirited and generous people of the city and they rallied to its support with enthusiasm. But there was neither room nor patronage for a daily morning paper in a city of three thousand people and the patronage, however liberal, would not furnish it with the necessary nourishment and it was a failure financially from start to finish. It was a wide awake and enterprising little sheet, advocating with zeal and enthusiasm every measure that its owner considered for the upbuilding of the city.
In 1873 the Fort Worth Standard made its bow to the public. It was owned and managed by Mr. J. K. Millican who is still a resident of the city. It was followed during the same summer by the Epitomist, established by Will H. Lawrence, who came from Kansas. The panic of 1873 sent it to the happy hunting grounds. On its demise the associate editor, L. R. Brown, better known at that time as “High-toned Brown” leased the material and started The Post, which lasted about three weeks. The public realized that there was not room for two papers, much less three, and failed to accord it any patronage.
The Standard lasted for several years. Soon after the Democrat started its daily, the Standard essayed the same, publishing an evening paper. But it could not find the necessary support and finally succumbed to the inevitable.
The Journal, Mirror, Star, Mail, Tribune, News and many other papers came and went down in the years that followed with rapid succession. The experience of one seemed to have no effect on the ambitions of the men who knew how to run a paper.
In the Spring of 1884 Capt. Paddock sold his interest in the Gazette to Mr. Loving and retired from active newspaper work, although he was interested several times in the property in a financial way.
In 1885 the Gazette was purchased by a stock company organized for that purpose by Maj. VanZandt, Walter Huffman, Morgan Jones, W. G. Turner, W. L. Malone, B. B. Paddock and others who wanted to have a good morning paper in the city. The ownership finally passed into the hands of Mr. W. A. Huffman, who during his lifetime kept it up at great financial sacrifice and loss. But its high standard never faltered. It was a good paper published every day in the week. After the lamentable death of Mr. Huffman, his widow essayed to continue the publication of the paper. It was still conducted at great financial loss. After the panic of 1893, Mrs. Huffman realized that she could no longer stand the strain incident to its publication and she sold the paper to Capt. B. B. Paddock. He had neither desire nor ambition to continue in the business and was only actuated by a wish that the paper should not suspend. He proceeded to organize a stock company to take over the property. He associated Mr. W. L. Malone, then out of business, Mr. E. G. Senter, who was publishing an afternoon paper called the Mail, Hon. Barnett Gibbs, Mr. Sawnee Robinson, Mr. O. B. Colquitt and some others and turned the plant over to them. It proved not to be a very happy family. With the most harmonious effort its success was not a certainty; with discord in the management, it was doomed to disaster. Mr. Paddock transferred his interest to Mr. Malone in order to give him control, hoping thereby to bring about a solution of the trouble. Soon thereafter Mr. Malone died and with his death the paper was doomed. Mr. Senter had associated with him his cousin Selden Williams, who came from Tennessee, to engage in the business. They could not make it a success. In the late summer of 1897 they sold the Associated Press franchise and the subscription list to the Dallas News and suspended publication without a word of warning to the people of the city. It was the most dastardly piece of disloyalty to a town ever perpetrated.
For a long time thereafter Fort Worth was without an organ or an advocate in the way of a daily newspaper. It felt the loss keenly, but there was no one to step into the breach and assume the 24responsibility of the publication of a paper. There had been such a fatality attending every effort that men hesitated to put their money into another venture. A man by the name of King finally came along and proposed on certain conditions to start a morning paper. The people wanted a paper so much that the conditions were eagerly accepted and Mr. King started the Herald. It lasted about a month. The promoter pocketed the money that had been advanced him and hied himself to new and fresher pastures. Thus the second time the public were betrayed.
When the Gazette was sold to the News it left a large number of men out of employment. They proceeded to organize a co-operative company and publish the Register. They got what business they could at whatever price they could obtain and on Saturday night divided the proceeds among the working force. Among these interested were A. J. Sandegard, J. A. McAllister and Clarence Lee who are still among the honored citizens of the city. The Register grew rapidly in business and favor. The public applauded the nerve of the promoters and gave it such liberal patronage that it had money in the bank—the first time such a thing had happened to a Fort Worth paper. It was finally merged into the Fort Worth Record, which has also been a paying enterprise.
The history of the Star-Telegram, another successful newspaper venture is too recent and too well known to require extended notice in this paper.
The advent of the railroad created a demand for increased hotel facilities and the public-spirited citizens proceeded to supply the demand. On December 1st, 1876, a company was organized with a capital of $30,000 of which Capt. J. C. Terrell was elected President; W. J. Boaz, Vice-President; J. Q. Sandidge, Treasurer and C. K. Fairfax, Secretary. K. M. VanZandt, W. A. Huffman, W. W. Dunn, J. C. Terrell, J. Q. Sandidge, B. C. Evans, J. E. Streeper, C. K. Fairfax and W. J. Boaz constituted the Board of Directors. It was christened the El Paso Hotel and was opened for business on the 22d day of September, 1877, with seventy-six rooms. It was leased to C. K. Fairfax & Co., who furnished it at a cost of approximately $15,000. It was located where the present Westbrook now stands. Major VanZandt and his family may not like to have it told that he was subjected to no little criticism at the time by some of the people for his action in this connection, but the truth of history requires that personal feelings must not stand in the way of telling the truth about such matters. Major VanZandt owned the land on which it was desired to erect the building and it was asserted that knowing this to be the logical place for the hotel, that he held the company up for an exorbitant price. He put the half block at the fabulous sum of three thousand dollars, payable in stock of the company. It would 25be interesting to know what the “kickers” if any of them are alive now think of the objections. The Major finally got forty cents on the dollar for his stock which made the price of the half block $1200. The property was finally sold to M. C. Hurley, but the price paid is not available at this writing.
Other hostelries at that time were the Mansion, Clark House, Commercial Hotel and other less pretentious houses, every one of which was “the best in the city.”
Prior to 1880, all the passenger business and transportation of the mails for the entire country west of Fort Worth was conducted by stage lines, which radiated from the city as the railroads do now.
The first line of importance and one that attracted the attention of the entire country was the Fort Worth and Fort Concho stage line which ran a daily line from this city to Fort Concho which stood where San Angelo is now located. This was what was known in postoffice parlance as “star route” service.
In 1877 a contract was let by the Post Office Department for a daily line from Fort Worth to Fort Yuma, Arizona, a distance of 1560 miles, the longest stage line in the world. Fort Worth shouted itself hoarse when the announcement was made and a banquet was given the manager of the line, Mr. J. T. Chidester. Bob McCart who had but recently come to the city from Bloomington, Illinois, was the principal speaker on the occasion and one who heard his speech must have been impressed with the fact that this was the greatest commercial enterprise in all history, up to that time. The stages were run through to Yuma in seventeen days. But this was found to be too long. The coyotes and horned frogs that inhabited most of the country beyond the Concho could not afford to wait that long for their mail and so the Second Assistant Postmaster General, at the earnest solicitation of the inhabitants, and the contractors, agreed to increase the compensation one hundred per cent. if the trip could be made in thirteen days—which was easy. It was one of the matters for Congressional investigation of the “Star Route Steal” but they never found Chidester. The mail left Fort Worth in a concord coach pulled by six horses and ran to Tharp Springs, where it was transferred to a surrey with two horses. These went as far as Brownwood, where a buckboard and two bronchos took it the remainder of the way, if they were not interrupted.
At that time the Judicial District in which Tarrant county was a part included the counties of Denton, Parker, Wise and Dallas. Hon. Hardin Hart was District Judge. He was an appointee of Edward J. Davis and was not very popular with the bar or the people. He was about as rough a specimen of the genus homo as ever graced 26the bench. His habits were said not to be very exemplary and this contributed to his unpopularity. He was accustomed to use the vernacular of the bar-room and the poker game. At one time J. C. Terrell proposed to amend his pleadings and the Judge responded, “Now, Joe, you know you can’t raise at this stage of the game. Gause stands pat on his general denial and you will have to call or lay down your hand.”
He did not hold in very high regard the rules of the Higher Courts or their decisions. On one occasion when James H. Field was arguing a case, the Judge interrupted him and proceeded to render an adverse decision. Field, opening a law book said, “If your Honor please, the Supreme Court says”; Field was not permitted to tell the bench what the Supreme Court said. Interrupting him, the Judge announced, “Well, let the Supreme Court say it agin, if it wants to.” It was stated that his rulings were usually correct, notwithstanding his manner of delivering them.
At the March term, 1873, of the District Court, C. C. Cummings, B. B. Paddock and Mr. Albritton were admitted to the bar. The latter was easily the brightest and best of these, but he could not stand the pressure of the hard times that soon set in and left the city, going to San Diego. Cummings and Paddock are the only surviving members of the bar at that time. Major J. J. Jarvis is a close second, he having come to this city in April and formed a partnership with John Peter Smith.
The Postoffice was conducted by Rev. J. A. Clark in the early part of the year, but he resigned and P. J. Bowdry was, after a spirited contest, appointed to succeed him. Mr. Clark kept what there was of the postoffice in the drug store of W. T. Ferguson. There was but little order and decorum in its management, as the postmaster was anxious to be relieved of his duties. It was not uncommon for the people to go behind the counter and help themselves to their mail. Bowdry held the office until July, 1874, when President Grant removed him to make a place for Col. A. G. Malloy, of Tyler, who was of the same political faith. Malloy held the office but a short time. In November he was appointed Collector of Customs at Jefferson and he left at once. Bowdry, who had been his deputy, was left in charge of the office. An effort was made to have L. M. Barkley, the present Postmaster, appointed. His father, J. A. Barkley, constituted the Republican party of Tarrant county at that time, but his pull at Washington was not sufficient to secure the appointment for his son and J. P. Alexander was appointed. He raised a howl of protest at the very outset by moving the office to the corner of Main and Third streets which was at that time “way out in the country.”
The first bank opened in Fort Worth was the banking house of Tidball & Wilson. Tidball came to the city early in January, 1873, from St. Charles, Missouri. Associated with him was John F. Wilson, of Virginia. Wilson furnished the money and Tidball the experience. George B. Hendricks was the sole employe of the bank. Tidball and he constituted the entire force. In August, 1874, Maj. K. M. VanZandt, J. P. Smith and J. J. Jarvis bought the interest of Wilson and put in some more money and the firm became Tidball, VanZandt & Co. and so remained until 1877, when it was merged into the Fort Worth National Bank. The second bank was that of Loyd, Marklee & Co., consisting of M. B. Loyd, Jer. Marklee and John Nichols. This continued but a few months when Loyd sold his interest to W. J. Boaz and the bank became Boaz, Marklee & Co., which was in turn succeeded by the City National Bank. In the summer of 1873, the bank of G. VanWinkle & Co. was opened. It was composed of G. VanWinkle and A. P. Wroten. It was short lived. The panic of 1873 closed its doors. After disposing of his interest in the bank of Loyd, Marklee & Co. Capt. Loyd proceeded to the organization of the First National Bank, of which he was made President and so continued until his death in April, 1912. D. C. Bennett was the First Vice-President and C. H. Higbee, Cashier. Of the directors Zane-Cetti and S. B. Burnett remain at this writing.
The situation remained unchanged until the year 1882, when Capt. H. C. Edrington came to Fort Worth from Bryan and established the Traders National Bank, of which he was President and W. J. Boaz, Vices-President and George Mulkey, Cashier.
In October, 1876, McCrary & Barlow opened a private bank. The firm consisted of John E. Barlow and Nelson McCrary. Barlow has been dead many years but McCrary still live a worthy citizen of this city.
TEXAS SPRING PALACE.
This unique and attractive place of amusement came at a date within the memory of thousands now living, but it was such an unusual and beautiful edifice that a few lines in regard to it may not be inappropriate.
It was erected in the Winter and Spring of 1888-9, and was located on the Texas & Pacific reservation north of and opposite the intersection of Railroad and Galveston avenues.
At that time Toronto, Canada, and Saint Paul, Minn. were having Ice Palaces and Sioux City, Iowa, its Corn Palace. General R. A. Cameron who was the Colonization and Immigration Agent of the Fort Worth & Denver, conceived the idea of having such an exhibition of the products of the Field, Forest, Orchard and Garden at Fort Worth and having it in the spring when there were no other places of entertainment and amusement anywhere in the country.
A company was soon organized with a capital of $50,000 of which $38,000 was subscribed when the company commenced business. B. B. Paddock was made President, W. A. Huffman, Treasurer and Willis H. Post, Secretary. W. F. Sommerville was made Director General and Gen. Cameron his assistant.
The contract for the building which was in the shape of a Saint Andrew’s cross and was 225×375 feet in dimensions was let to Thos. J. Hurley and his associates, who were then in the business of constructing buildings. E. D. Allen, of Chicago, was employed to superintend the decorations. There was not an inch of timber in the structure, except the floors, but that was covered with some product of Texas, wrought in the most artistic manner into pictures. It was easily the most beautiful structure ever erected on earth. It was opened May 10th, 1889, with impressive ceremonies and everybody in town was present. Governor Thurston, of Nebraska, made the opening address and the music was furnished by the band of the Elgin Watch Factory, of Elgin, Illinois. The National Band of Mexico and other bands from different sections of the country were in attendance during the season.
No expense or pains were spared in advertising the Palace in all parts of the country. Special committees, travelling in “special cars” were sent to Washington and to the City of Mexico to present invitations to Presidents Harrison and Diaz of the two Republics to attend the Spring Palace. These invitations were the limit of the engraver’s art and were handsomely bound in silver. This is but a sample of the extravagant management that attended the work from start to finish. The result was, that notwithstanding the generous patronage of the home people and the public when the gates were closed on the 10th day of June, there was a deficit of over $23,000. It took President Paddock and the Directors about an hour to raise the money and pay off the bills of the company.
In January, 1900, the Directors for the second year opened subscription lists for the money for the second year. It was soon subscribed and the work inaugurated for the second year. More economical plans were adopted and more system observed in the expenditure of funds. One hundred feet were added to the east and west wings of the building and the decorations were as elaborate and beautiful as for the first year. One hundred of the patriotic women of the city were organized into groups of ten each and they worked eight and ten hours a day for over one hundred days in decorating the building. Such another example of patriotic purpose was never before seen in any community.
The building when completed was as beautiful and more elaborate than the first. Cities and counties from all over the State were assigned space in the building and prizes offered for the most attractive decoration. This enlisted the interest of many towns and counties and the result was very gratifying.
The attendance for the second year exceeded that of the first, as the beauty and attractiveness as well as the utility of the exhibit had been heralded over the State and adjoining States. The season was most profitable and successful from every standpoint.
The last night but one was dedicated to a grand fancy dress ball to be held on the ground floor of the building which had a space for dancing of approximately 16,000 square feet. A most extensive ball room. Special trains were run from near-by cities and towns; that from Dallas bringing over one thousand people in their best “bib and tucker.” But they were destined not to enjoy the occasion. Just as the floor had been cleared and the visitors were entering the gates the cry of “Fire! Fire!! Fire!!!” rang through the building, carrying terror to every inmate of the vast structure. How the fire originated was never determined. It started on the north side, about the center of the Main Building, and in less time than it takes to write these lines, the entire structure was a mass of flames, inside and out. It was estimated that there were 7000 people in the building and why hundreds did not perish is a mystery. The officials of the company, who were present, directed the visitors to the various exits, of which there were sixteen, and no Sunday school in the country was ever dismissed with more decorum and good order. Every person accepted the direction of those in charge as if they were on dress parade on a military plaza. In four minutes the building was a mass of flame, inside and out, and in eleven minutes the building fell to the ground. So rapid was the spread of the fire, that the firemen, who were stationed in different parts of the building with their hose connected to the fire hydrants, did not have time to turn on the water.
That the loss of life was not appalling is one of the wonders of the occasion. About thirty people were injured, more or less seriously, and many were burned. Low necked and short sleeved dresses of the ladies exposed them to the falling cinders and pieces from the decorations which were of the lightest and most inflammable character.
One life only was sacrificed, that of Al Haynes, a civil engineer, who was one of the most active and efficient in directing the moving throngs to the various exits and rendering assistance to the people. He seemed to be as cool and collected as any person in the building. But he seemed to have lost self-control at the last minute and ran and jumped through a window to the ground below, a distance of seventeen feet. The fall broke both ankles and prevented him from getting away from the fire which was raging over that part of the exterior. Some gallant men took the “fly” from a tent that stood in the garden and holding it before them rushed up and threw it over Haynes and then dragged him away from the building. The most conspicuous man in this was a workman, named Mahoney, who was 30badly burned. Haynes was removed to the hospital and received the best medical treatment that could be obtained, but he succumbed to the injuries received, the following day.
The ladies of the city, under the leadership of Mrs. Drew Pruitt, now of Los Angeles, solicited the funds and erected the monument to his memory that now stands in the triangle at the foot of Main and Houston streets.
The Spring Palace, which was a credit to the public spirit of the people of Fort Worth, went out in a blaze of glory.
The first telegraph line was built into Fort Worth in the summer of 1876. It was owned and operated by C. L. Frost and Max Elser. After the advent of the Railroad it was sold to the Western Union. In 1886 the Baltimore & Ohio Telegraph Company built into the city, but it soon sold to the Western Union.
The first flouring mill for commercial purposes was built by Messrs. Wolcott & Blandin. Work commenced on November 28th, 1874, and the first flour was ground June 26th, 1875. Later Joseph H. Brown bought an interest in the mill and secured the expert services of James W. Swayne as manager. Swayne, who was called “Jim” by his friends, was educated for the law and of course knew all about the manufacture and sale of flour. The second mill was built by Mr. M. P. Bewley, whose worthy son, E. E. Bewley is at this writing the manager of the Medlin Mills.
The first registered cattle were brought to Texas from London, Ohio, by James A. Brock, then of Fort Griffin, now of El Paso. It was thought at that time to be a foolish venture, but time and experience has demonstrated his wisdom.
Following the completion of the railroad to Fort Worth came lumber yards and lumber dealers from all over East Texas. All that section of the city bounded by Houston street, Monroe street, on the east and west and by Ninth street on the north and as far south as the railroad reservation, was one vast lumber yard; and the entire country west, southwest and northwest of Fort Worth was supplied with building material from this city. Hundreds of wagons were loaded daily and the roads out of Fort Worth were lined with wagons transporting it to as far west as San Angelo and even beyond. It was the nearest market for all the western country for several years and brought millions of dollars to the city.
The first cotton compress was erected by Col. E. W. Morton, about the foot of Commerce street. The first bale of cotton was compressed on the 17th day of September, 1877, with appropriate 31ceremonies. On September 2d, 1878, a second compress was erected.
The first grain elevator was erected by Mark Evans about where the present depot of the Fort Worth & Denver road now stands.
The first ice factory was built by R. E. Maddox, W. H. Little and Dr. N. Wallerich, they having acquired the plant of the first refrigerator and converted it into an ice factory.
EFFORTS AT UPLIFT.
The reformer was here then as now and tried to reform every one else but himself, just as they do now and with about the same success. The town was “wide open” to the horror of some and an effort was made at intervals to put a stop to the open gambling house. One Grand Jury falling under the influence of the “up-lifters” brought out indictments against about thirty members of a whist club that played whist in the rear of a saloon owned and managed by Henry Byrne. (His widow, Maggie, lives here still.) The club was composed of the business men of the city; not one of whom ever entered the wide open gambling houses. Having no business, they played whist. The stakes were a bottle of beer—if any one wanted the beer. A dozen or more indictments were found against each member. The District Attorney was a Dallas lawyer. The fee in each case was ten dollars. A pretty good sum for one term of Court. The juries were compelled to find verdicts of guilty and assessed the fine at from 1/37 of a cent up to one cent. But it carried the costs. The county paid many hundreds of dollars for the fun and the district attorney gathered many thousands. He was not a candidate for re-election.
OH! THE FUN WE HAD.
There was lots of fun in those days. No one had much to do but to enjoy life and boost Fort Worth. They did both to the extreme limit. A man could and did wear the same suit of clothes year after year and no one commented on his frugality or poverty. Women wore the same dresses to church, Sunday after Sunday, and no one was found to criticise. The girls, and there were pretty girls then as now, not so plentiful, only because there were not so many girls, wore the same dresses (that was before they commenced wearing “gowns” in the daytime) to all society gatherings without apology or explanation.
They did not find it necessary to cut their dresses for high water or low in the neck in order to display their physical charms. There were dances in the court room, in a hall over a livery stable and at private residences, occasionally. They danced the cotillion, lancers, Virginia reel. The tango, bunny hug, turkey trot and other fancy stunts were unknown.
There were picnics on the Clear Fork in the daytime and by moonlight, when the moon was in commission. Everybody was happy and tried to make his neighbor happy. Good old days.
The practical joker had plenty of time in which to indulge in 32his fun. One of the best of these was on General Peers, who kept the Commercial Hotel, at the corner of Fifth and Commerce streets. As usual, every one was on the qui vive for railroad news. One day John S. Hirshfield had a spurious telegram delivered to the General, purporting to be from the private secretary of Jay Gould, the then president of the Texas & Pacific, announcing that Mr. Gould and a party of capitalists would arrive on the stage that afternoon and asking that provision be made for their entertainment. It was signed by “Tom Collins,” at that day the cognomen for all imaginary and fictitious persons. But the General did not know this and proceeded to buy up all the turkeys in the market and all the other delicacies to be had. He was instigated to invite about fifty of the more prominent citizens to dine with Mr. Gould. The plan was for each of the invited guests to pay for his dinner so that the hotel would suffer no loss. Along in the afternoon, Charles Fallbush, who traveled for the wholesale liquor house of Day & Co. came in from a western trip, dusty and travel stained and was introduced to General Peers, as Tom Collins, the Secretary of Mr. Gould. Fallbush explained that he had driven over from Dallas ahead of the party to see that all arrangements were made for the entertainment of his chief. The scheme was working beautifully until “Tuck” Boaz, not being advised that the invited guests were to pay for the dinner and not wishing the General to suffer such a loss gave the game away.
The “tender-foot” was an easy mark for the practical joker and many of the “tales that were told” about the condition of affairs in Texas were the result of the jests played on men unused to the customs of Texas. On one occasion a man by the name of Robinson, who traveled for the Hall Safe and Lock Co., badgered his friends about being afraid of Indians. At that time there was not an Indian in Texas, but, of course, he did not know that. He was persuaded by some of the traveling men who then made the western territory to accompany him on a trip out west. The man consented and went as far as Comanche. They laid over there on Sunday and the stranger was regaled all the day with stories of the hair-breadth escapes that members of the party at the hotel had made in the recent past. The “tender-foot” was not afraid of Indians. About the middle of the afternoon the party dissolved, one at a time until only the stranger and the drummer he was with were left in the hotel. Then a suggestion was made that they two take a walk up the banks of Indian Creek, which runs by the town. He was glad to go. Was not afraid of Indians. Oh no. About half a mile from town those who had gone ahead suddenly rushed out of the mesquite firing their pistols and yelling like mad. The stranger was told to run for his life—and he did. His companion soon fell to the ground calling on him to run. He ran into town and under the hotel. The Democrat published a column or two about the event and sold Robinson one hundred and fifty copies at ten cents per. He mailed them to every one of his 33acquaintance east of the Mississippi and was a hero, until the next issue told the truth about the event. He did not order any extra copies of that issue.
These are sample bricks of what was going on most of the time, and will suffice to indicate that life was not a burden to those who were waiting for something to turn up, and who knew how to enjoy their enforced idleness.
STEALING AN EXCURSION.
One of the most amusing incidents of the time occurred in the Spring of 1875. A man by the name of George W. Cole from somewhere up in Pennsylvania had plotted a townsite out in Palo Pinto County which he called Lamar. He alleged in his advertisements that it would be a division point on the Texas & Pacific. He sold a good many lots to the “sucker” element that is always ready to grab at any thing that sounds cheap. He went over to Tennessee and worked up an excursion to come and see Texas. It was farthest from his thought to show them Lamar. He only intended to let them see what a good country Texas was. Hearing about the excursion, the Democrat got out an extra edition, telling about Tarrant county in general and Fort Worth in particular. The editor took a bundle of the papers and went to Texarkana to meet the excursion train. It took breakfast at that place and while the excursionists were enjoying their mututinal meal, the papers were distributed in every seat in the train. After they had time to look the paper over, the editor went through the train and made their acquaintance. He so ingratiated himself with them that by the time the train reached Dallas, they were nearly all ready to come on to Fort Worth, to which place he promised them free transportation. That night he preempted every seat in the stage coaches and engaged hacks for the rest of the party. They spent the night at the Crutchfield Hotel and in the morning were to have had a reception by the business men. General W. L. Cabell was the mayor of the town. When the hour for the reception arrived there was no one to receive. They had gone to Fort Worth, where they had a royal good time. Later some of them settled in Tarrant County. Mayor Cabell said he had heard of thefts of every kind but that it was the first time he ever heard of any one stealing an excursion.
NEITHER COMPLETE NOR INFALLIBLE.
There is no pretense that these pages are a complete history of the early days of the city. There are many things, and some of them of importance and interest that have not been mentioned. Many persons of note who have contributed to the growth of the city are not enumerated herein. This is because the memory is faulty and not with a wish to withhold credit from any. Such as it is, it will serve to refresh the memory of some and be of interest to others who are not familiar with the struggles through which Fort Worth went and from which it emerged with success.
Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook is public-domain in the country of publication.
Corrected a few palpable typos.
In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by _underscores_.