WHERE do I live? Some people call it COWTOWN

by Terry 11 Replies latest jw friends

  • Terry


    People say: COWTOWN

    I say: It ain't.

    I've lived in Fort Worth all but ten of my seventy-five years.

    Nobody ever asked me why Fort Worth is called Cow Town.

    I would guess it is self-evident.

    How many of us who live in Fort Worth realize those two words are gleaming with history?


    A real fort way back in the 1800s protected the army from very upset people "already" living in the territory.

    We used to call them Indians.

    (Columbus: "Oops, we're not in India?")

    Heck - these indigenous tribes even called themselves that.

    But - who am I to argue? I'll call them "ain't Indians."

    The local Fort was named after a soldier named Worth.


    William Worth, a General in the U.S. Army in the 1840s.

    Worth joined the Army when the War of 1812 erupted.

    He was only 18 years old.

    What’s odd about this?

    Worth was reared by deeply religious parents who were Quakers! One suspects an 18-year-old Quaker boy was extremely anxious to get away from a fanatical religious community even if it meant physical danger!

    Quakers were rigorous Pacifists.

    However...Great Britain had long been interfering with trade on the high seas, kidnapping Americans and impressing them into forced servitude, as well as bribing the ain’t-Indians to attack settlers.

    President Madison requested Congress declare war in 1812 and the young Quaker jumped at a chance to demonstrate what a tough apostate Quaker could do to put the kibosh on ‘bad guys.’

    In his first battle against the Chippewa (ain’t-Indians), Worth was almost fatally wounded. Afterward, he was awarded the rank of Major for his bravery (if not effectiveness.)

    In the next ten years, he fought against the Seminoles and rose in rank again to General after fighting in every major battle between the U.S. and Mexico.

    Unfortunately, he died of cholera in 1849. (Drinking bad water.)

    If he had been less religious, he'd have been drinking beer or whiskey, eh?

    Just .saying..

    Do you suppose William Worth is buried in the city named after him?

    You’d be wrong. He was buried in Brooklyn, New York. (Don’t ask!)

    What is important is that General Worth was considered a great military tactician. He proposed building a series of 10 protective forts to be constructed in the newly won Mexican territory (ain’t-yet-Texas) and one of those forts was named in his honor.

    Why? What's so special about a non-liquor-drinking dead Major who was an apostate Quaker? Personally, he was admirable. A real gentleman - and a fabulous mentor.

    A big admirer of Worth - a young Major who hero-worshipped Worth had been dispatched to find an ideal spot for one of these forts.

    His name was Ripley Arnold.

    Arnold established a post on the banks of the Trinity and named it Camp Worth in honor of the late General Worth.

    In August 1849, Arnold moved the camp to a north-facing bluff that overlooked the mouth of the Clear Fork.

    The US War Department officially granted the name "Fort Worth" to the post on 14 November 1849.

    Got that? Okay!

    The trouble with ain’t-Indians continued until the U.S. Army abandoned Fort Worth in 1853 at which point it becomes an ain’t-Fort.

    An abandoned fort just sitting next to the Trinity River with the sound of crickets and cicadas sounds pretty sad, huh?

    Oh sure - a few people remained. But what did they call the place in which they lived?

    Let's consider the following...

    (Note: armies and settlers from Spain called the area belonging to them, “Tejas”.)


    The indigenous people, Caddo, welcomed them as friends and “Tejas” means “allies.” Or: Friends.

    (Ironically, this is what Quakers call each other!)

    Over time, before Texas became a sovereign nation in 1836, Texian or Texican referred to any resident, of any color or language.

    I tell people I AM A TEXICAN.


    What is now called Texas existed under 6 different flags in the course of its history.

    "Six countries have had sovereignty over some or all of the current territory of the U.S. state of Texas:

    1, Spain (1519–1685; 1690–1821),

    2. France (1685–1690),

    3. Mexico (1821–1836),

    4. Republic of Texas (1836–1845),

    5. Confederate States of America (1861–1865),

    6. The United States of America


    Here’s the part you need to understand…

    The early settlers in the area around Fort Worth were rugged individualists. They flourished and built stores, schools, hospitals, department stores, and all the trappings of what would become a city.

    I’ve lived in Fort Worth since 1947 and I recognize the names of these founding fathers on buildings, street signs, parks, and businesses as their legacy as indomitable folk who stuck with their dreams when even the U.S. Army gave up and moved on.

    I like that Ft. Worth is named after an Apostate! I’m one too, after all.


    “So, Terry, is that the whole story? You didn’t explain the Cowtown Ain’t the title of this tale.”

    Yes, you’re right.

    Hang in and hang on and you’ll be repaid for your patience, gentle reader!


    The city of Fort Worth is inside the greater County of Tarrant.

    By the time the Civil War broke out in 1860, Tarrant County had 850 slaves to account for and roughly 6,000 whites (who probably were white.) The County flourished with free labor at its core and soon voted to abandon its fealty to other States in America by seceding from the Union.

    Was this a prudent business decision, a good Christian decision, a patriotic decision, or just a case of CYA? (Cover yer ass.)

    History tells the tale.

    Judgment is rendered in the results of that decision by the founding fathers of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

    At the end of the Civil War, Fort Worth was down to a population of 175 persons. If that doesn’t teach you a lesson--you’re never going to learn one.

    How did Fort Worth revive its economy?

    Glad you asked!

    The answer in one word is cattle.

    Fort Worth became COWTOWN.

    Pause and reflect...

    Longhorns stolen and purchased from Mexico were driven up through the middle of Texas toward the well-watered triple branched TRINITY River complex and...Cowtown (Fort Worth.)

    Here’s a fast fact for you.

    Texas is mostly prairie, grassland, hills and desert, forests, and only ONE natural lake: Caddo.

    Texas is FLAT and DRY except for its rivers.

    If you’re driving cattle, you’re compelled to follow the grass and the rivers. If you do that, you end up in Fort Worth: Cowtown.

    Between 1866 and 1890, 4 million head of cattle passed through Cowtown (Fort Worth.)

    Once railroads became established in 1876, the idea of a treacherous land journey through hostile territories was abandoned.

    Cowboys spent their money and moved on.

    When did COWTOWN become AIN’T COWTOWN?

    You ask a lot of questions - don't you?

    Well, listen up Pilgrim.

    Greenleaf Simpson was a wealthy Boston capitalist, seduced into investing in local stockyards by some fast talk and sweet promises of wealth to come. In 1893, Simpson offered $133 thousand for the local stockyards and he, in turn, lured other Northern capitalists to join him in the meatpacking business. By the year 1900, both Armour and Swift had opened regional processing plants in the area.

    The flow of cattle, stock exchanges, slaughterhouses, meat processing industries made Fort Worth the “Wall Street of the West.”

    Feeders and Breeders convened regularly at the newly constructed Cowtown Coliseum and an annual Fat Stock Show and Rodeo commenced its tradition.

    1923 arrived as $30 million flowed through the local economy.

    Over 5 million cattle were processed and rendered by WWII until the boom turned after the war into a bust.

    The rise of Interstate highways and the trucking industry replaced transportation of goods by the railroads and the cattle markets shrunk into smaller and smaller venues.

    By the 1980s, the 5 million cattle which had once invigorated Fort Worth had shriveled into a pathetic 57 thousand annually.


    Luckily, a new industry had soon replaced the old one.

    This new industry didn’t have to be fed, watered, or driven through prairies or slaughtered and packed for shipment.

    The discovery of OIL brought a new source of revenue replacing the cattle industry.

    I know I don’t need to explain the oil industry to you. Do I?

    Wildcat drilling using venture capital either produced active wells or completely failed.

    The trick was finding investors to give you money.

    (Historical note: George Bush the younger had a real knack for accepting millions of dollars from his father’s friends and political acquaintances to “invest” in wildcat wells.

    Now don't make fun:

    None of the wells paid off and young Bush kept the leftover funds for his upcoming career in politics. (That's another story.)



    Fort Worth has many nicknames such as “Where the West Begins”, “Panther City”, and “Cowtown.”

    Having lived here for 70 years out of 74, I can tell you the identity of this city is pretty much a fantasy clinging to a faded past of romantic cowboys and ‘Indians’ and cattle drives, saloons, and a Hell’s Half Acre.

    We are actually a metropolitan area of less than a million people, 99% of whom have absolutely nothing to do with COWS!

    You're not shocked at that are you?

    Fort Worth largely exists because of the largesse of billionaires such as Richard Rainwater and the four Bass brothers.

    Forbes magazine published this on March 21, 2016:

    “The four billionaire Bass brothers--Sid, Edward, Robert, and Lee--inherited a small fortune from their oil-tycoon uncle four decades ago and have built it up to a combined $8.2 billion.“

    If you are a billionaire and you wish to be a large fish in a small pool, Fort Worth is an excellent way to gain notice and attract others who will fuel your fiefdom with talent and funds as well.

    For example, Richard Rainwater was a stockbroker hired by Sid Bass who started his own investment firm locally, and with his guidance, the Bass brothers became private equity and hedge fund titans.

    As a matter of record, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 20 billionaires have made their home, if--for no other reason--Texas is only 1 of 2 states in America that does NOT have a State income tax! Dallas and Fort Worth are about as far north and west as you can go and still have the best of two worlds: rural and homespun as well as modern and cosmopolitan.

    (Yes, I have met some--not all--of these philanthropists and Titans and found them to be down-to-earth and ‘just folks’ for the most part.



    We have a remarkable Library system with amazing donors affiliated with free concerts and programs of the highest quality. The Van Cliburn Competition locally brings superb artistic genius into our city as a source of much pride and celebration.

    Bass Hall is a latter-day Opera House with perfect acoustics and lavish architecture as a venue for musicals, concerts, ballet, and mixed events at the highest level of performance.

    Check it out for yourself.


    My great grandmother’s husband was Jim Rushing, a gambler shot in the back by Alderman and Saloon owner, Martin McGrath, here in Fort Worth, in 1894.

    (My grandfather was 4 years old at the time.)

    Fort Worth, where you could be a policeman and own a saloon at the same time. (Famously, Wyatt Earp earned $1000 a week from his share of saloon business.)

    Great grandmaw Florence never quite got over it and told me tales of that time period with tears in her eyes.

    I learned to think of our fair city as something not lost in the past, but as a survivor of hard times and bad men and rotten situations brought on by happenstance, bad luck, and wrong-headed decisions.

    But we survived, shook off the old ways, and moved ahead to join the real world.

    The moral of the story and the point of this article is as follows:

    We live here because we don't want to live elsewhere.

    That is a choice.

    We have a colorful history and I told you way more than you wanted to know. But I'll end by saying this.

    We Ain’t Cowtown--we’re a Now town!

  • Simon

    We're in Calgary, also called "Cowtown" :)

  • NonCoinCollector

    The cattle from Fort Worth often ended up in Abilene, Wichita, and Dodge City, Kansas. Which is were I have spent most of my life. Nice to know a little history from Fort Worth.

  • Terry

    Simon: We're in Calgary, also called "Cowtown" :smile:

    Hmmm, shouldn't it be CAL Town? :)

  • Terry

    The cattle from Fort Worth often ended up in Abilene, Wichita, and Dodge City, Kansas. Which is were I have spent most of my life. Nice to know a little history from Fort Worth.

    Is that sort of like "ain't Indian"?
  • NonCoinCollector
    Is that sort of like "ain't Indian"?

    Pretty much. I came up with the name after seeing the Caleb and Sophia cartoon where Sophia put her ice cream money in the Watchtower donation box. Later Watchtower did a cartoon with Caleb wanting to give money from his piggy bank, but all he had was a button. I used to use the name everywhere, but now only here.

  • NonCoinCollector

    Speaking of Cowtown, if you ever find yourself in Wichita:


  • road to nowhere
    road to nowhere

    I live in a cowtown too. Said like it is bad by lots of new comers. I prefer to call it the big a** hole on the plains.

  • vienne

    I live in a city with no nickname. Nothing at all to do with cows.

  • Terry

    It strikes me as interesting that so few people are interested per se in HISTORY
    and yet a town like my own embraces the past culturally. Maybe a balance of
    the past and a vision of the future would be best.

    Except for a few Billionaires (or not so few) RANCHES are invisible to people in Texas cities.
    They mean nothing to everyday people. All of that is romanticized, however.
    When I was in Europe (2018) taxi drivers, when asked, said they'd love to come to the U.S.
    and visit --wait for it ...wait for it ...LAS VEGAS and DISNEYWORLD!
    Two of the least plausible American cities possible!

Share this