Bad Blood: Jim Courtright and Luke Short

Jim Courtright

Jim ‘Longhaired’ Courtright
was Fort Worth City Marshall from 1876-1879. No one had ever outdrawn Courtright until that fateful afternoon when he and Luke Short met outside the “White Elephant”.

Luke Short

L. L. Short – a professional gambler and part owner of the famous “White Elephant Saloon” located on Main St. between Second and Third. He was known around Fort Worth as the King of the Gamblers.

Bad blood had been brewing for some time between Luke Short and ‘Longhaired’ Courtright when they met on the evening of Feb. 8th at about 8:00 p.m. A challenge was issued by Courtright. Luke was called out of the White Elephant. Both men moved up the block until they were in front of Ella Blackwell’s Shooting Gallery. They stood facing each other just a few feet apart. Short assured Courtright he had no gun and moved to show him by lifting his vest. It was dark, Courtright had been drinking and he took it as a go for his gun. Courtright yelled, “Don’t you pull a gun on me.” Courtright went for one of his two 45’s on his hips. Courtright outdrew Short. In the process his 45’s hammer caught on his watch chain. Luke drew his pistol and got off the first shot. Short then fired four more shots. Courtright fell to the floor on his back, dying.
The year was 1887. Luke Short never went to trial for killing Courtright. The shooting was a clear cut case of self defense.

“Hell’s Half Acre” by Richard F. Selcer and “Where the West Begins” by Janet L. Schmelzer. Both books are available from the “Best Little Bookstore in Texas”.

Route 66

Route 66 mapOn Friday, May 15, 1998, Neva and I climbed into our time machine for a trip back in time on Old Route 66. We adjusted our mind time frames and reset our time machine’s odometer. The time machine’s fuel tanks were topped off in anticipation. Old road maps were consulted but newer maps were more dependable. With the old maps you could get lost in a time warp, perhaps never to find your way back to the present.
A navigator tape was plugged into the time machine electrical system for mood imaging. As “Old Roads Are Just Side Roads That Time Passed By Too Fast” was surrounding the interior of our Time Machine, we blasted off.
I stabilized our cruise speed, the co-pilot guided us towards “The Lost Highway”, known as “The Mother Road”. The Quest Had Begun.
As I wrote this last sentence the hairs on the back of my neck just stood up. I have been on old Route 66 many times covering Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, and I still get so excited I just can’t stand it. I love Route 66 Road Trips!
66 Courts

U Drop InnThe U-Drop Inn is considered by many Route 66 connoisseurs to be an Art Deco Masterpiece Deluxe. The U-Drop Inn is in Shamrock. Shamrock is just off of I-40 and at one time a Route 66 Main Street of America Town. In 1936 construction was started on the building costing a grand total of $23,000. Several years ago on one of our Route 66 tours, we ate at the café. It was a plain, small town café; no frills, just good food. Sadly on this trip the café was closed down and for rent. I have heard that a man from up North has bought the U-Drop Inn and plans to restore it to its former glory. Great! Continue reading

Edition Number Nine


The following is just a sample of the pictures and articles in the 20 pages of issue #9.

markerThis concrete marker is intended to mark the site of the last indian battle in Tarrant County. It is at 1516 Rio Grande and 1500 Summit.

The Holiday Inn, Beach at I-30, Ft. Worth
Probably the only hotel in the world with it’s own cemetery on it’s grounds. In 1970 a Mr. John Hickman of Ft. Worth and Judge Robert Hall of Dallas decided to build a hotel on the Sycamore Heights Bluff overlooking the then Fort Worth-Dallas Turnpike, but they had two problems. One, there appeared to be a small private cemetery right where they wanted to build the hotel. The cemetery is the Pioneer Ayres Graveyard. fenceBuried there is Benjamin Ayres and his wife Emily. Four of his six sons are buried here, John, Joe, C.A., and Ben, Jr. Also buried on the hotel grounds are Isabella Sanderson, Ayres daughter and her husband, William Sanderson. Another daughter, Mary Ayres Cushman, (born Dec. 22, 1874, died Aug. 23, 1952) is also interned here. Over the years many others were buried in this two acre plot, some friends and some strangers, many of them children who died while traveling West by wagon.
Mr. Hickman decided to leave the cemetery and build the hotel around it. It has become quite a tourist attraction over the years. Mr. Hickman promised to give the cemetery perpetual care.
Now to the other problem. It was a stinky one. A pig farm located just to the west of the proposed hotel and south of the Turnpike. What to do? The Ft. Worth City Council tried to discourage it by declaring the pig business a nuisance and a zoning violation. But, the pig farmers stayed.

(Editor’s note: I remember just after the Turnpike was built and in the
days before most cars had air conditioners whenever we would pass the pig
farm we would roll up our windows to keep out the smell. It didn’t work.

Finally, the owners of the pig farm, worn out by the constant hassle, sold out. A Federal Agricultural Building was built soon after on the site and the hotel soon after that. After Fort Worth was abandoned by the Army in 1853, merchants and traders took over the empty buildings. They called the new town “Fort Town “. By 1856 Fort Town was again being known as “Fort Worth”. Aren’t you glad? “Yes, I am from Fort Town” doesn’t sound as cool as “Yep, I’m from “Foat Wuth”.

(Editor’s note: I seem to recall that when the Turnpike was built it split the pig farmer’s land into with no access to the north side of the Turnpike. I had heard that a tunnel was built under the Turnpike to allow access to the other side. I may check this out someday.)

Benjamin Ayres came to Tarrant County in 1848 from Tennessee. He was probably pretty wealthy as he had sold his plantation to come here. Mr. Ayres claimed his land on Sycamore Creek. He owned 320 acres in what is now Meadowbrook. He was active in local politics and helped organize the First Christian Church in Fort Worth in 1851. The Christian Church he helped organize still stands today at 6th and Throckmorton St.
Ben Ayres served as Tarrant County’s second County Clerk from 1852 to 1856. He died in 1862. Ayres Street is named for him.

(Editor’s note: Okay, I checked out the tunnel story. There is not one as such. Mr. Miller (pig farm owner) had his 100 pig farm right on Sycamore Creek. When they built the Turnpike over Sycamore Creek, they left enough room on both sides of the creek under the bridge to drive over to the north side of the Turnpike.)

Continue reading

Edition Number Eight

Edition #8

From the Editor Saturday morning, sometime in the 1950’s, the Tivoli Theater on Magnolia Ave. near the south side of Fort Worth. Mom would drive us (“us” being my brother and I) to the Tivoli Theater for an all day movie marathon. We would pay admission of 9 cents to get in. As we gave the ticket lady our dime and she gave us our ticket and 1 cent back, there was always one guy standing by the window wanting your penny change. When he got 9 cents in pennies, he got in free, and he did get your penny. Inside we bought popcorn and a drink for a nickel each. We saw two full movies, a newsreel, and about 4 or 5 cartoons and a serial. The one I remember best was “Superman and the Mole Men”. I wonder if you can still see that one anywhere? After all the movies were over and we left the theater, the drug store up the street gave each kid a fudgesicle free. After eating the fudgesicle, we went next door to the Rockyfeller. In the ’50’s if you ate a hamburger anywhere in Ft. Worth, most likely it was a Rockyfeller. We sat down at the counter, ordered a hamburger that cost around 15 or 20 cents, a pack of chips about 5 cents and a soda for 5 cents. After all that I would order a slice of Boston Creme Pie. If I remember right, they only baked and served that kind of pie during the winter months. I have looked, but I can’t find anyplace that makes the kind of Boston Creme Pie that Tivola TheatreI remember. As my brother and I stood on the curb waiting for Mom to pick us up, we were thinking about next Saturday, wondering if Superman would survive his encounter with Kryptonite. The 50’s were good. The Tivoli Theater was located in the 800 block of West Magnolia Ave. built and owned by I. B. Adelman, Theater Tycoon. It opened on Christmas night in 1929. The first film was “They Had To See Paris” starring Will Rogers and Fifi D’Orsay. Next door to the Tivoli was Rockyfeller Hamburger Stand #15, opened in 1939.Tivoli Theatre

Back in Issue #3 we ran the picture that you see on Page One of “Bessie”. This picture was taken in 1952. I found it at a flea market and didn’t know if it was taken in Fort Worth or not. Well, we have since found out this was Bessie Kelley, and she is standing in front of her Barber Shop.

motto Pioneers Rest Cemetery This burial ground was started in the summer of 1850 upon the deaths of Sophie and Willis Arnold, children Major Ripley A. Arnold, Commander of the Troops at Fort Worth. Many early Fort Worth settlers, including 75 Civil War Veterans are buried here. Pioneers RestBuried here also are Major Arnold and General Edward H. Tarrant for whom Tarrant County was named. General Edward H. Tarrant arrived in Texas in November 1835 settling in Red River County. He served in the Republic of Texas Congress and became a Brigadier General in the Texas Militia in 1839. He commanded the Texas Rangers at the Battle of Village Creek in present Tarrant County in 1841. With George W. Terrell, negotiated treaties with many of the Texas Indian tribes at Bird’s Fort in 1843. He died in Parker County in 1858 and was buried there. In 1928 his body was reentered here by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Tarrant County was named in his honor. Continue reading