The Year Was 1876: Donkeys, Elephants, and Buffalo


Articles from the Daily Fort Worth Standard of 1876 show what life was like in Cowtown 137 years ago. Fort Worth had a population of about six thousand. On November 29, 1876, readers of the Daily Fort Worth Standard read these stories:


The top story on the front page was about the recent presidential election, in which Democrat Samuel J. Tilden of New York outpolled Republican Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio in the popular vote and won 184 electoral votes to Hayes’s 165. Ah, but twenty electoral votes were disputed in four states: Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon. Both parties charged voter fraud, and emotions ran high across the country. Outgoing President Grant even reinforced federal troops stationed in Washington, D.C. Not until early 1877 did a compromise give all twenty contested electoral votes to Republican Hayes—who trailed Tilden in the popular vote–giving Hayes a one-vote edge over Tilden in the Electoral College. In return, Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, effectively ending Reconstruction.

These opinions of other newspapers around the country show that emotions ran high even three weeks after Election Day.

Soon after the Texas & Pacific Railroad reached Fort Worth in 1876, the Sanger brothers opened a dry goods store at 14 Houston Street under the management of A. Mandlebaum. The brothers set up shop in Fort Worth right across the street from one of the biggest dry goods stores in town: B. C. Evans. Notice that the ad does not include the store’s address. Fort Worth was a small town.

Four paragraphs in the “Miscellaneous” column show how dangerous working and riding on the railroads could be.

These briefs show that Fort Worth was getting a new courthouse, jail, and city hall. J. J. Kane and son were early Fort Worth contractors and architects. J. J. Kane, born in Ireland about 1838, would later design St. Patrick Cathedral, St. Ignatius Academy, and an early St. Joseph Hospital building. Note the reported abundance of buffalo farther west.

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