Friday, October 15, 2021
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Fort Worth

In Market: Where am I?

🕐 5 min read

If I told you I lived in an area of Fort Worth named after an English potter, where would you expect that to be?

If you guessed Wedgwood, you’d be right. That area of town, as well as Wedgwood Drive, are named after English potter Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795). The developers of Wedgwood chose the name because it would “indicate quality,” according to the book where I found this information, Who Was Hulen? By Werner Magnus, published in 1990.

Magnus says the naming of the streets with a “W” in the area was a “marketing and promotional device to identify the area.” But it didn’t sit well with the Fort Worth Fire De-partment who prevailed upon the developers to stop using all “W”s when they extended across Altamesa. Seems in those pre-Google Maps days the Fire Department had a hard time navigating streets in Wedgwood during emergencies.

I have been searching for that book for a long time. Someone gave it to me shortly after it came out, but then I loaned it out to a fellow reporter and it never returned, despite her pinky swears.

The reporter lived on Merida Avenue, named after Varlos Merida, a Guatemalan painter known for his frescoes. The church I attended growing up was there, too.

When I found myself doing reporting for the Business Press 15 or so years ago, I began watching garage sales, used bookstores and Amazon for the book because I knew it would come in handy. I found copies of it, but sometimes it fetched as much as $40 bucks.

That only increased my anger at the book-thief reporter, but I finally ran across a copy that had a more reasonable price and snapped it up. And I haven’t loaned it out, I don’t care how many pinky swears you make.

The book is a lot of fun. You might ask, as the book’s title does, who was Hulen? He was Maj. Gen. John A. Hulen (1871-1941), the commander of the Texas National Guard and later in command of the 36th Infantry Division, which trained at Camp Bowie. After the war, he became vice president of the Fort Worth and Denver Railroad Co.

Just doing a search of streets where I grew up yielded plenty I didn’t know.

When I was a kid, like many kids, I bragged about stupid stuff, like how long of a street I lived on. Yeah, I know, it’s stupid. I lived on Henderson Street. And it is long, though why I would brag about it puzzles me to this day.

“My street’s longer than yours!” What a toothless, irrelevant brag.

There are several possible reasons for its name. There’s James Pinckney Henderson (1808-1862), who was appointed a brigadier general by David Burnet, vice president of the Republic of Texas. He and Isaac Van Zandt, another big Fort Worth name, negotiated the treaty of annexation with the U.S.

Henderson became governor of Texas in 1846 and then served as U.S. Senator from 1857-58. Pretty impressive curriculum vita.

Our street could have been named after Joseph Henderson, who was Tarrant County Sheriff from 1876 to 1880 and served as tax collector. Gee, living on a street named after a tax collector, that’s something to brag about.

Or it could have been J.F. Henderson, who was an alderman from 1897 to 1906.

Many of my friends lived a few streets away on Lipscomb Street, which has many possibilities: Was it Abner S. Lipscomb, a Supreme Court judge, first in Alabama, then in Texas, or G.R. Lipscomb, a state representative in 1927 or J.P. Lipscomb, county associate judge in 1873 or Will Lipscomb, principal of the High School for Boys in 1885?

There is a Francis Drive in Fort Worth, apparently named after Dr. Mark Francis (1863-1936), who is called the Father of the Cattle Industry. He was the chief of the Division of Veterinary Science in the Agricultural Experiment Station System in 1916. I don’t know if he was a relation or not.

The street where I spent much of my life, Hemphill Street, was named after John Hemphill (1803-1862) who was the first Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court in 1842 and a senator from 1859 to 1861. He was one of the 14 senators who recommended secession.

My maternal grandparents lived a street over from us, on South Adams. Plenty of claimants for that name:B.B. Adams, a contractor who built most of the Fort Worth fire stations in the 1920s; Don B. Adams, fire chief from 1889 to 1892; Frank Adams and brother Bunk, who settled in the Sycamore area in 1850; George S. Adams, city auditor from 1915-1920; John D. Adams, who landed the contract for the Fort Worth to Yuma Stage Line in 1877 and, of course, the two presidents bearing that name.

My grandparents’ last name was Lowe and a nearby cross street to Adams was Lowe Street. That was not named for them, but for either A.T. Lowe, a member of the Commissioners Court in 1896 or Jim Lowe, an alias of the infamous Butch Cassidy, who hung around Fort Worth mooning for Etta Place, or in my mind, Katharine Ross, who played her in the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

My fraternal grandparents lived on May Street, south of us. I’ll get to May Street in a second. The cross street near them was Gambrell Street, named after James Bruton Gambrell (1841-1921), who played a key role in the founding of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary, which is located further west on Gambrell.

Now back to May Street, which intersected with Gambrell near my grandparents’ home. According to Magnus, “The story goes that May, Hattie, Annie and Leuda streets were named after madams or prostitutes.” Well then, it wasn’t all governors and tax collectors that got streets named after them.

And May and Gambrell streets? That’s a place where the sacred and the profane intersect.

Magnus appears to have been a longtime Fort Worth resident who was born in 1915 and died four years after this book came out.

I’m glad he wrote it. It tells you more about where you live than just a map.

Robert Francis is editor of the Fort Worth Business Press.

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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