The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo was first held on the North Side in 1896, and when the history of the stock show and of the North Side is discussed, one of the recurring names is “Sansom.” But you have to be more specific. First the people. “Sansom” usually refers to Marion Sansom. Ah, but which one? There were three: Sr., Jr., and III.
Now the places. You are probably familiar with Sansom Park. But which one? Again, there are three: two Sansom Park parks and one Sansom Park city. If you are ever asked on a game show, no, the Sansom Park parks are not located in the Sansom Park city. Savvy? Marion Sansom Park and Buck Sansom Park are in Fort Worth. The former, west of Jacksboro Highway, is named after Sr.; the latter, east of Jacksboro Highway, is named after Jr., whose nickname was “Buck.” Sansom Park the city is located on Jacksboro Highway between the two Sansom Park parks and is named after Sr.
Sr., Jr., and III all were important in the development of the stock show and rodeo (Jr. became secretary-manager of the stock show in 1918 and helped develop the rodeo; III was elected to the stock show board of directors in 1944).
But when it comes to the stock show, Sr. was the main Marion. He was there from the giddyup-go. In fact, the stock show’s first roundup was held on his ranch.
Marion Sansom Sr. was born on June 20, 1853 in Madison County in southeast Texas, but his personal compass always seemed to point north. In 1859 he moved north with his family—to Alvarado. Sansom became a banker and rancher there, served as mayor. But he also developed interests farther north—in Fort Worth.
He became a livestock commissioner in Fort Worth in 1892, the year the Fort Worth Stock Yards Company incorporated, and later was president of the Fort Worth Livestock Commission. He also dealt in feed, grain, cotton oil, and real estate.
Sansom was one of the organizers of the stockyards in 1892 and of the packing plants ten years later. In fact, in 1902, as Swift and Armour opened their plants, Sansom moved north again, from Alvarado to Fort Worth, where he was already doing so much business. He settled north of the river.
In 1904 Sansom began buying land southwest of Saginaw one thousand acres at a time. Three purchases alone totaled thirty-four hundred acres for $2.1 million in today’s money. He would eventually own seven thousand acres between Lake Worth and Marine Creek. The ranch included the future sites of Marion Sansom Park, Buck Sansom Park, and the city of Sansom Park.
In 1906 Sansom sold his twenty-thousand-acre ranch in Upshur County.
The senior Sansom was instrumental in establishment of the stock show in 1896, held under shade trees along Marine Creek in north Fort Worth and timed to coincide with a convention of cattlemen. He was president of the stock show in 1923-1924.
Sansom also was the first president of Stockyards National Bank (1910, pictured), a director of State National Bank, a director of the Fort Worth Board of Trade, a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He was head of the War Finance Corporation, which provided relief to cattlemen during and after World War I. He was chairman of the Tarrant County war bond drive during World War I. He was president of Cassidy-Southwestern Livestock Commission, president of the board of regents of Texas A&M, a director of the Southwestern Cattle Raisers’ Association.
This is the view from the Inspiration Point shelter at Marion Sansom Park toward the mile-long hanger at Lockheed Martin and the dam of Lake Worth. Marion Sansom Sr. lived to see the lake (1913) and his namesake park (1921) but not the bomber plant (1942).
Marion Sansom died on March 22, 1932.
Marion Sansom Sr., Jr. (1879-1942), and III (1910-1960) are buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Alvarado.