Tag Archives: Fort Worth

Today in Texas History – February 8

From the Annals of the Old West –  In 1887, “Longhair Jim” Courtright was killed in a gunfight with Luke Short.  This particular violent episode actually matched the largely inaccurate movie legends which typically involve a face-to-face showdown at high noon in the middle of the street.  Most such shootouts were more of the ambush or hide behind the water trough while taking potshots variety.  However, this famous gunfight lived up to the classic Hollywood image.

Courtright had been at various times a jailer, Fort Worth City Marshal, deputy sheriff, deputy U.S. Marshal, hired killer, private detective and racketeer.  What was not disputed was Courtright’s ability with a gun and willingness to use it with deadly results.  After losing a race for another term as City Marshal he decamped to New Mexico where he participated in the killing of two men in a range war.  He escaped back to Texas where he had friends and resisted extradition ending up back in Fort Worth.

Luke Short was a gunfighter, gambler and bar owner who came to Fort Worth from Dodge City where he had dabbled in gambling, and befriended such legends as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp who were also friends of Courtright. In Fort Worth, he managed the White Elephant, a saloon and gambling house in the area around the Fort Worth Stockyards known as Hell’s Half Acre.  HHA contained numerous bars and whorehouses and was largely left alone by law enforcement.

Most historians believe the gunfight arose from Courtright’s protection racket.  When Short refused to pay for protection for his saloon, Courtright apparently felt the need to make him an example.  Short also had a reputation as a gunfighter mostly due to an 1881 gunfight with gunslinger Charlie Storms at the Oriental Saloon in Tombstone.  At 8:00 in the evening, Courtright called Short out of the White Elephant.   Short came out and confronted Courtright in front of a bar and brothel appropriately called the Shooting Gallery.   Few words were exchanged until the men faced off.  Courtright, who was probably drunk, said something about Short having a gun. Short claimed he was unarmed – a flat lie.  Probably for the benefit of future witnesses,  Courtright loudly exclaimed, “Don’t you pull a gun on me,” while drawing his own pistol.   Courtright’s gun hung for a second on his watch chain allowing Short to draw.  Short’s first shot blew off the thumb on Courtright’s shooting hand. As he attempted to shift the pistol to his other hand, Short fired four more shots in quick succession killing the notorious Courtright.

Two weeks later a prostitute named Sally was murdered and combined with the earlier gunfight, efforts to clean up the area gained irresistible momentum.  HHA would remain a rather wild spot for many more years but its days of abject lawlessness were coming to an end.

Today in Texas History – January 4

From the Annals of Radio – In 1923, radio station WBAP in Fort Worth first broadcast a “Barn Dance” country music variety show  featuring a fiddler, a square-dance caller, and aged Confederate veteran Capt. M. J. Bonner.   The format relied on cornpone humor, lively music mixed  with the occasional tearjerker and stereotypical country costumes.   WBAP had been established by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram under Amon G. Carter in 1922 and was looking for a distinctive programming format which it found with the Barn Dance. This format quickly swept the nation and was  copied by  the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville and the National Barn Dance broadcast from Chicago among many others.

Forget About Syrian Refugees, We Must Protect Ourselves from the Insidious Dangers of the “Stealth Dorm”

While Gov. Greg Abbott (TP- Texas) frets over Syrian refugees and boldly states that Texas will accept none (Red wonders exactly how that is going to work), our Poor Idiot Governor is ignoring the real crisis facing our state – the specter of the Stealth Dorm (ominous music plays).

It’s a good thing the Austin and Fort Worth City Councils are on the job, because they have recently passed anti-Stealth Dorm ordinances to deal with problems allegedly created by TCU and UT students cohabitating in willy-nilly fashion. The FW ordinance prohibits more than five unrelated people from occupying a single-family home, no matter how large it is, while the Austin ordinance puts the limit at four for new construction. The ordinances are allegedly justified as an attempt to preserve single family neighborhoods and avoid an end-around of municipal zoning laws.  The allegedly awful consequence of allowing people to decide where and how to live include increased traffic, parking problems, noise and “overflowing sewers.”  Red can see possible problems with the first three, but fails to see how 5 college students tax the sewer lines any more than a houseful of teenagers who are all related in some form or fashion.  The hubbub has caught the attention of the Business Insider which you can peruse if you want to know more.

Today in Texas History – April 23i

From the Annals of Modern Art –  In 1892, a group of Fort Worth socialites obtained a charter from the State which established the Fort Worth Public Library Association.  The FWPLA was the first seed of what would become the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth – the oldest art museum in Texas.  The Charter provided that the purpose of the FWPLA was “the accumulation of paintings and artistic work of every character for the enjoyment and cultivation of our people. ”  The works were initially displayed in the Art Gallery of the Carnegie Public Library in 1901.  The name evolved over the years from the Fort Worth Museum of Art, to the Forth Worth Art Center, to the Fort Worth Art Center Museum, to the Fort Worth Art Museum.  The naming frenzy settled down in 1987 and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has been in place since 1987. The museum “is dedicated to collecting, presenting, and interpreting international developments in post–World War II art in all media and creating a welcoming environment for its public appreciation.”  Its incredible collection is housed in a spectacular building designed by Tadao Ando and is located in the Fort Worth Cultural District along with the Kimbell Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum.  Together they are perhaps the most spectacular collection of centrally located art museums in the entire country. Red’s  personal favorite is the massive Anselm Kiefer painting located in the gallery behind the main entrance.