TravelTill

History of Fort Worth



lace was never as wild as its reputation.

Suicide was responsible for more deaths than murder, and the chief victims were prostitutes, not gunmen. However much its reputation was exaggerated, the real Acre was bad enough. The newspaper claimed "it was a slow night which did not pan out a cutting or shooting scrape among its male denizens or a morphine experiment by some of its frisky females."

The loudest outcries during the periodic clean-up campaigns were against the dance halls, where men and women met, as opposed to the saloons or the gambling parlors, which were virtually all male.

A major reform campaign in the late 1880s was brought on by Mayor Broiles and County Attorney R. L. Carlock after two events. In the first of these, on February 8, 1887, Luke Short and Jim Courtright had a shootout on Main Street that left Courtright dead and Short the "King of Fort Worth Gamblers."

Although the fight did not occur in the Acre, it focused public attention on the city's underworld. A few weeks later, a poor prostitute known only by the name of Sally was found murdered and nailed to an outhouse door in the Acre.

These two events, combined with the first prohibition campaign in Texas, helped to shut down the Acre's worst excesses in 1889. More than any other factor, urban growth began to improve the image of the Acre, as new businesses and homes moved into the south end of town.

Another change was the influx of black residents. Excluded from the business end of town and the nicer residential areas, Fort Worth's black citizens, who numbered some 7,000 out of a total population of 50,000 around 1900, settled into the southern portion of the city. Though some joined in the profitable vice trade (to run, for instance, the Black Elephant