Long before the Acre reached its maximum boundaries, local citizens had become alarmed at the level of crime and violence in their city. In 1876 Timothy Isaiah (Longhair Jim) Courtright was elected city marshal with a mandate to tame the Acre's wilder activities.
Courtright cracked down on violence and general rowdiness by sometimes putting as many as 30 people in jail on a Saturday night, but allowed the gamblers to operate unmolested. After receiving information that train and stagecoach robbers, such as the Sam Bass gang, were using the Acre as a hideout, local authorities intensified law-enforcement efforts. Yet certain businessmen placed a newspaper advertisement arguing that such legal restrictions in Hell's Half Acre would curtail the legitimate business activities there.
Despite this tolerance from business, however, the cowboys began to stay away, and the businesses began to suffer. City officials muted their stand against vice. Courtright lost support of the Fort Worth Democrat and consequently lost when he ran for reelection in 1879.
Throughout the 1880s and 1890s the Acre continued to attract gunmen, highway robbers, card sharps, con men, and shady ladies, who preyed on out-of-town and local sportsmen.
At one time or another reform-minded mayors like H. S. Broiles and crusading newspaper editors like B. B. Paddock declared war on the district but with no long-term results. The Acre meant income for the city (all of it illegal) and excitement for visitors. This could possibly be why the reputation of the Acre was sometimes exaggerated by raconteurs which longtime Fort Worth residents claimed the