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Fort Worth Characters

Description: Fort Worth history is far more than the handful of familiar names that every true-blue Fort Worther hears growing up: leaders such as Amon Carter, B. B. Paddock, J. Frank Norris, and William McDonald. Their names are indexed in the history books for ready reference. But the drama that is Fort Worth history contains other, less famous characters who played important roles, like Judge James Swayne, Madam Mary Porter, and Marshal Sam Farmer: well known enough in their day but since forgotten. Others, like Al Hayne, lived their lives in the shadows until one, spectacular moment of heroism. Then there are the lawmen, Jim Courtright, Jeff Daggett, and Thomas Finch. They wore badges, but did not always represent the best of law and order. These seven plus five others are gathered together between the covers of this book. Each has a story that deserves to be told. If they did not all make history, they certainly lived in historic times. The jury is still out on whether they shaped their times or merely reflected those times. Either way, their stories add new perspectives to the familiar Fort Worth story, revealing how the law worked in the old days and what life was like for persons of color and for women living in a man’s world. As the old TV show used to say, “There are a million stories in the ‘Naked City.’” There may not be quite as many stories in Cowtown, but there are plenty waiting to be told—enough for future volumes of Fort Worth Characters. But this is a good starting point.
Date: October 15, 2009
Creator: Selcer, Richard F.

Written in Blood: the History of Fort Worth's Fallen Lawmen

Description: In 2010 Written in Blood: The History of Fort Worth’s Fallen Lawmen, Volume 1, told the stories of thirteen Fort Worth law officers who died in the line of duty between 1861 and 1909. Now Richard F. Selcer and Kevin S. Foster are back with Volume 2 covering another baker’s dozen line-of-duty deaths that occurred between 1910 and 1928. Not counting the two officers who died of natural causes, these are more tales of murder, mayhem, and dirty work from all branches of local law enforcement: police, sheriff’s deputies, constables, and special officers, just like in Volume 1. This era was, if anything, bloodier than the preceding era of the first volume. Fort Worth experienced a race riot, two lynchings, and martial law imposed by the U.S. Army while Camp Bowie was operating. Bushwhacking (such as happened to Peter Howard in 1915) and assassinations (such as happened to Jeff Couch in 1920) replaced blood feuds and old-fashioned shootouts as leading causes of death among lawmen. Violence was not confined to the streets either; a Police Commissioner was gunned down in his city hall office in 1917. Even the new category of “vehicular homicide” claimed a lawman’s life.
Date: October 15, 2011
Creator: Selcer, Richard F. & Foster, Kevin S.