Monday, September 21, 2015
It’s difficult to find early pictures of
taken during its
formative years following the 1876 arrival of the T&P Railroad. For one thing a small, dusty village of just
a few hundred frontier stockmen was of little interest to photographers having
the requisite “modern” photo equipment…the gear was bulky and difficult to
transport over long distances. Thankfully,
there are number of miscellaneous images in circulation that do provide random
snapshots of the small town that help describe how the town was developing from
1876-1895. Taken from a Ft. Worth Penn Street home in 1885, shown
above is the earliest known photograph of what was the developing skyline.
Thankfully, the early
manage to establish one City view that has remained substantially unchanged for
over 130-years; that being, Ft. Worth Main Street either north to
the Courthouse or south to the rail yards with some occasional off-axis views
to fill-in the texture detail. Countless
photographers, both professional and amateur, have taken those pictures from
various vantage points along Main Street such that a
collection of them really does a good job of illustrating the growth and
changes over that period of time.
With the coming of the T&P railroad,
became the cattle
shipping center for all those Fort Worth free range cattle
that had been driven up the Chisolm and other trails to the Texas railheads. In addition, the rail line provided much
easier access to the country’s newest frontier lands from the much larger
population centers of Kansas and Chicago . New York
A young (27) Frederick Remington’s amusing letter home to his girl friend suggests one young man’s feel for the place, circa 1888.
My dear girl,
Here I am at last—leave in the morning by stage for Fort. Sill—spent a day in Fort Worth with Hough—had a devil of a time—the mosquitoes like to eaten me up—there is not a square inch on my body that is not bitten—and oh oh oh how hot it is here—I have sweat and sweat my clothes full—I can fairly smell myself—I am dirty and look like the devil and feel worse and there is no help for me.
Well you can bet I am going to make the dust fly and get through as soon as I can—This is a miserable little frontier town with a little hen coop of a hotel—I am nearly starved to death—This Texas grub is something frightful—and my room—I wish you could see it. You would smile—I fully agree with Phil Sheridan “If I owned
and hell, I would rent Texas and live in Hell.”— Texas
Well all this is very discouraging but it’s an artist’s life. I have no idea how long this thing will take for these Indians are scattered all over the earth but I “touch and go” and you can bet I won’t spend the evening with them—still I came to do the wild tribes and I do it.
Your Old Boy,
Now, while Remington and Russell were venturing out into the
to record what they saw and
create their artwork, a young Amon Carter about age 10, who would become
perhaps the most important influence on what Indian Territories would become, was growing up
in Crafton, about 60-miles northwest of town. Carter, together with his future friend, oilman Sid
Richardson, were too young to have known Remington and Russell
during their prime years, but would later enthusiastically embrace and collect their
art. Those collections reside in Fort Worth museums today and form
perhaps the greatest accumulation American Western Frontier Art in the world. More on them later. Fort Worth
Frontier cattlemen started building “city” homes in
during the 1890s that dwarfed
all residences that had been built during the previous 30-years of
settlement. The earliest large homes went
up a little north of the Courthouse on Fort Worth Samuels Ave. and since they were built of
wood, nearly all of them have either burned or rotted away. Only the Garvey house remains today as a reflection of what once was. Moving to made sense for the regional Cattle
Barons. Their herds had been shipped
out from there since the T&P came to town in 1876. Setting prices and making the deals was done
right there in town at the Exchange and the money flowed through Van Zandt’s
bank, among others. Fort Worth
With a rapidly growing population,
was quickly developing some
of the more refined creature comforts the large cities back East had been
enjoying for about a generation by the 1890s.
Waggoner and Burnett both had private rail cars they used
for travel. There were probably others…an
interesting research project to find some pictures might be in the oft. But, for most folks, it was the large homes
they built in Quality Hill that left the lasting impressions. Ft. Worth
...and, Van Zandt had managed to help cure the lack of any saloons in town...by 1886, there were 68 recorded in the City Directory.
...next, Quality Hill residents and details...
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
1865-1880s. At the end of the Civil War when millions of (Spanish) longhorn cattle were left on the plains of
without a market, the Union Pacific was building west
across Texas . Joseph McCoy, an Kansas stockman, believed these cattle could be herded north
for shipment by rail. He built yards at Illinois and sent agents to notify the Abilene, Kansas cattlemen. In 1867 the first cattle drives came up
the Texas Chisholm Trail and during the next five years, more than a million
head were received at McCoy’s rail head. Abilene
Settling near Dan Waggoner’s ranches on the
North Texas open range was Samuel Burk Burnett, a 19-year
old young man closer in age to Dan’s son William Thomas, than to Dan himself. During the ensuing 25, or so years, the
Waggoners and the Burnetts built their herds and their fortunes driving tens of thousands of cattle to market each spring.
Their cattle drives and those of many other open range ranchers caught
the imagination of the generations to follow as being the last days of our western
frontier and of the American cowboy.
Burnett’s ranches, located just west of Waggoner’s, grew in several
parcels to total about 350,000 acres at their peak.
It would be the next generations of Waggoners and Burnetts, along with a number of other open-range ranchers who, as they aged and prospered from their cattle businesses, would move to early day Ft. Worth to build their spacious city homes during the waning days of the 19th century. But before anyone in
could start dancing a minuet out on a lawn, a
city would have to be built first. Ft. Worth
The Chisolm Trail passed right through
offered transient cowboys a convenient waypoint while driving their Fort
Worth South Texas herds through on their way to McCoy's Abilene, . Kansas rail head provided them an opportunity to reprovision, rest their stock, and blow off
some steam. The constant stream of
cattle and cowboys contributed to at least two very early civic improvements toward the establishment of Ft. Worth as a city
of the future. First, Van Zandt’s note
of there not being a single saloon in the town was soon rectified and next, a
permanent settlement of sorts began its existence on the south end of what would some day be downtown….Hell’s Half Acre (HHA). Remnants
of Hell's Half Acre were still standing in the southern part of downtown when we were
kids....and the area is now largely covered by the Tarrant County Convention Center. Fort
financier, Jay Gould, was the ramrod behind pushing
the rail line south from New York
into Kansas . First, the
line came into Marshall, then Dallas by 1873, and after the bank panic of 1873
had passed…into Texas by 1876. The
arrival of the railroad was the first significant link to a larger world than Ft. Worth had ever seen.
Our population then was about 500-600 people. Ft. Worth
Of course, all of us learned of the Golden Spike joining the very first Transcontinental railroad in 1869 at Promontory Point in Utah but, understanding the significance of the arrival of rail lines into the country’s hinterlands was probably lost on most of us. Think of it this way, after the Civil War,
was the center of most New York City commerce…it was like the stout tree stretching toward
the sky, it’s root system hidden out of sight below the surface. As the map below shows, the railroads acted very
much like that tree’s root system by connecting the rest of the country and its products to the
trunk…NYC ! United States
And once we had more efficient transportation leading to the big city than horse-drawn stage coaches, the possibility of some of us learning the minuet was substantially improved but, we weren't there yet.
Next - Quality Hill