From the Annals of Television – In 1948, WBAP-TV in Fort Worth began operations with the showing of a speech by President Harry Truman. WBAP (now Channel 5- KXAS) was the first TV station in Texas. The original plans called for WBAP-TV to sign on the air at 7 p.m. on September 29. However, Truman’s whistle-stop campaign rally in Fort Worth prompted a change. WBAP launched two days early to broadcast Truman’s speech. The first image broadcast was a crowd shot taken from just west of the speaker’s platform at the Texas & Pacific terminal building on the southern edge of downtown Fort Worth. WBAP was an NBC affiliate but showed programs from ABC as well. WBAP somewhat oddly billed itself at “the first station south of St. Louis, east of Los Angeles and west of Richmond, VA.”
Donald Trump’s claim that he would have won the popular vote but for the millions of people who voted illegally finally got some legs last week. Yep, Texas found someone who voted illegally – but not in 2016. Rosa Maria Ortega was convicted in Fort Worth last week on two felony counts of illegal voting over allegations that she improperly cast a ballot five times between 2005 and 2014. Ortega was a legal permanent resident who was brought to the U.S. as a baby and mistakenly thought she was eligible to vote. And she foolishly voted Republican, including for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office helped prosecute her. That’s gratitude for you.
Ortega received a harsh sentence of 8 years – likely due to the hubbub caused by Trump with his claims of widespread voter fraud. Ortega has been in the U.S. since infancy and has four teenage children. Since this is a felony conviction, Ortega will likely be deported after serving her sentence. Another example of the pro-family policies of the GOP.
Red is just waiting for the 4,999,999 other cases of illegal voting that would establish Trump could have easily won the popular vote – but he is not holding his breath.
From the Annals of Cowtown – In 1887, Luke Short killed former Fort Worth town marshal, Timothy Isaiah “Longhair Jim” Courtright, in a gunfight. This was likely one of the few gunfights that more or less lived up to the Hollywood version of an actual face-to-face shootout witnessed by others. Luke Short was a notorious figure of the old west having been a friend of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and others and involved in deadly gunfights in Leadville, Colorado and Tombstone, Arizona. He was also a part owner of the legendary Long Branch Saloon in Dodge City, Kansas. His travels ultimately took him to Fort Worth where he acquired an interest in the White Elephant Saloon which claimed to be the “largest and most magnificent establishment in the state.”
The dispute arose when Courtright proposed that his help was needed his “protection.” Short was attempting to sell his interest in the White Elephant to raised money for the defense of his brother who had killed a man in San Angelo and to deal with his other legal problems. Courtright’s interference was complicating the sale. Short was not a man to be intimidated and rejected Courtright’s proposal claiming that he would provide any protection that his saloon needed. Courtright decided it was necessary to show Short what could happen if his services were declined. The dispute boiled over early on the evening of February 8 when Courtright again confronted Short. Short’s version of the events was succinct.
“Early in the evening I was getting my shoes blackened at the White Elephant, when a friend of mine asked me if there was any trouble between Courtright and myself, and I told him there was nothing. A few minutes later I was at the bar with a couple of friends when some one called me. I went out into the vestibule and saw Jim Courtright and Jake Johnson. Jake and I had talked for a little while that evening on a subject in which Jim’s name was mentioned, but no idea of a difficulty was entertained. I walked out with them upon the sidewalk, and we had some quiet talk on private affairs. I reminded him of some past transactions, not in an abusive or reproachful manner, to which he assented, but not in a very cordial way. I was standing with my thumbs in the armholes of vest and had dropped them in front of me to adjust my clothing, when he remarked ‘Well, you needn’t reach for your gun,’ and immediately put his hand in his hip-pocket and pulled his. When I saw him do that, I pulled my pistol and began shooting, for I knew that his action meant death. He must have misconstrued my intention in dropping my hands before me. I was merely adjusting my clothing, and never carry a pistol in that part of my dress.”
Before the encounter was over, Short had shot Courtright five times. Bat Masterson who witnessed the shootout recounted the action.
“No time was wasted in the exchange of words once the men faced each other. Both drew their pistols at the same time, but, as usual, Short’s spoke first and a bullet from a Colt’s 45-calibre pistol went crashing through Courtright’s body. The shock caused him to reel backward; then he got another and still another, and by the time his lifeless form had reached the floor, Luke had succeeded in shooting him five times.”
Photo of Luke Short.
From the Annals of the Religious Right – In 1860, abolitionist Methodist minister Anthony Bewley was lynched. In 1858, Bewley – an outspoken opponent of slavery – established a mission south of Fort Worth. He ran afoul of the so-called vigilance committees who were claiming that abolitionists were plotting to burn Texas towns and murder white citizens.
Bewley was targeted primarily on the basis of a letter he allegedly received from another abolitionist earlier in July. The letter implored Bewley to continue with his work in helping to free Texas from slavery. Many were convinced it was a forgery set up to incriminate Bewley. But the letter was widely published and used as supposed evidence that Bewley was fomenting trouble along with other John Brownites in Texas.
Bewley knew trouble was coming and took his family to Kansas. A Texas posse caught up with him in Missouri. He was returned to Fort Worth on September 13. Later that evening, vigilantes seized and lynched Bewley. His body was allowed to hang until the next day. He was buried in a shallow grave, but quickly disinterred. His bones were stripped of their flesh and placed on top of Ephraim Daggett’s storehouse and children were allowed to play with them.
One cannot know how many in the lynch mob went on to serve in the Confederate military. But stories such as this illustrate clearly why the Confederate “heroes” should continue to be removed from the place of honor that hold in many Texas areas and relegated to the dustbin of history.
From the Annals of Cowtown – In 1887, the Fort Worth Union Stock Yards were chartered. John Peter Smith, J. W. Burgess and Morgan Jones obtained the charter to build the yard in north Fort Worth. They raised $200,000 for construction which began in 1888. The Union yard was the first step in a plan to convert Fort Worth from a temporary way station on the route from Texas to Kansas City and St. Louis into a major stock yard and meat packing center. Over the next 30 years with the addition of several meat packing plants, Fort Worth which had already earned the nickname “Cowtown” truly became one.
From the Annals of the Army – In 1917, construction was begun on Camp Bowie. The U.S. Army base was named after Jim Bowie. The camp was located in the Arlington Heights neighborhood about three miles west of downtown Fort Worth and was established by the United States War Department as a training site for the Thirty-Sixth Infantry Division. Including the rifle range and trench system, the Camp covered more than 2,100 acres.
Over 100,000 troops trained at Camp Bowie. On April 11, 1918, the Thirty-sixth went on parade in Fort Worth. The parade lasted four hours and was attended by an estimated 225,000 spectators, likely making it the biggest parade in Fort Worth’s history. The Thirty-sixth left for France in July 1918, after which the camp was used as an infantry replacement and training facility.
After the Armistice on November 11, 1918, Camp Bowie was designated a demobilization center. Once the demobilization was concluded, the Camp was closed on August 15, 1919. The only remaining vestige is in the name Camp Bowie Boulevard which runs through the site. After the camp closed it was quickly converted to a residential area, as builders took advantage of utility hookups left by the army.
Formerly known as the Colonial National Invitational, the golf tournament now called the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth is being played this week. If you are a golfer or fan and can only attend one event on the Texas tour, this is the one. The tournament has been held at the same course for over 70 years and is superbly well run. Not only that, but the course layout is such that there are excellent opportunities for viewing the action. It is very easy to move from one hole to another and the facilities are second to none for the average golf fan. The action on the par-3 13th is rumored to get a bit out of hand, but there are plenty of places on the course for a more relaxing view of actual golf being played.