W. A. Huffman didn’t let the grass grow under his feet.
And not just because his implements company sold lawn mowers.
He was secretary of the city’s first street railway in 1876 and president of the North Side Railway Company. He was treasurer of Tarrant County Construction Company, which organized to bring the Texas & Pacific railroad to town in 1876. He was on the board of directors of the El Paso Hotel and the Fort Worth & Denver City railroad, an incorporator of the Texas Southern Trunk Line Railroad Company, owner of the Fort Worth Gazette, a director of Merchants’ National Bank, president of the Board of Trade. His syndicate built the Fort Worth Opera House in 1883.
Huffman was also a city alderman and treasurer of the company that produced the Texas Spring Palace exhibition in 1889-1890.
He owned stock in several flour mills in Texas and prime real estate on Main Street downtown. He popularized Fort Worth’s nickname “Queen City of the Prairies.”
Huffman was said to have been Fort Worth’s first home-grown millionaire.
Whew. And he did all this by the age of forty-four.
Walter Ament Huffman was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on October 16, 1846. By 1850 parents Philip and Caroline had relocated to Madison County, Kentucky.
The family moved to Texas in 1857 and was in Collin County in 1860. In 1861, at age fifteen, Huffman enlisted in the Confederate army and served two years. In 1863, at age seventeen, he opened a dry goods store downtown on the courthouse square.
From the 1877 city directory.
Huffman, who had known swords as a soldier, knew plowshares as a merchant.
About 1878 Huffman and Merida G. Ellis partnered to open a farm implements store downtown. Huffman later became sole owner of the company. (Fort Worth named a school after each man.)
In the 1880 census Huffman listed his occupation as “agricultural implements.”
From the 1886 Wellge map.
Opera House from the 1886 Wellge map.
Huffman died in Chicago on June 29, 1890 of Bright’s disease. He was forty-four.
On June 30 his newspaper, the Gazette, printed this tribute to Huffman in a black border.
Walter Ament Huffman is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.