Legendary Fort Worth civic booster and Star-Telegram publisher Amon Carter didn’t invent the rivalry between Fort Worth and Dallas, of course. He just inherited it from the likes of Buckley Burton Paddock of the Fort Worth Democrat and James Wellington Latimer of the Dallas Herald.
In autumn of 1871 Fort Worth got a new newspaper: the Democrat.
On October 28 the Dallas Herald took note of the new newspaper upriver. The Herald was polite, wished the Democrat well.
Downstate, on November 3 the Galveston Tri-Weekly News also took note of the Democrat as a new political ally against “the most dangerous and reckless party that ever held the reins of power.” Texas was not readmitted to the Union until 1870 and thus could not vote in the 1868 presidential election between Republican Ulysses S. Grant and Democrat Horatio Seymour.
But in Houston on November 16 the Daily Union tsk-tsked that the Democrat might slow development in Fort Worth because of its hostility to “the Government” and “Northern people.”
J. W. Cleveland edited the Democrat until early 1872, when B. B. Paddock became editor. Image of Paddock is from the April 14, 1893, Fort Worth Gazette, Paddock’s next newspaper.
Paddock quickly became the voice of Panther City, hissing at Dallas every chance he got. On May 5 the Dallas Weekly Herald reprinted the Democrat’s accusation that folks in Dallas were spreading the rumor that Cowtown was beset by hostile Indians. “Dallas county is jealous of Tarrant,” the Democrat wrote, because “her county seat is destined to be a railroad junction” (per Paddock’s prophetic Tarantula map). The Herald replied by sniffing that “Our people don’t care if the population of Tarrant should equal that of China, and Fort Worth reach the fabulous dimensions of Pekin.”
On July 13, 1872, the Herald warned Dallas attorneys attending court in Fort Worth to mind their mouths “lest our sensitive brother of the Democrat should be ruffled.”
On August 31, 1872, as Fort Worth was hoping to offer a subsidy to Texas & Pacific railroad to lure it to town, the Herald noted that the Democrat had been complaining about Dallas “busybodies” “intermeddling” in Cowtown’s affairs.
On February 8, 1873, the Herald said Paddock “goes for Dallas in a style almost as fierce as that which characterized the onslaught of Mr. William Nye on the Heathen Chinee.” (Nye was a character in Bret Harte’s poem “The Heathen Chinee,” published in 1870.)
On January 17, 1874, the Herald took “friend Paddock” to task again. Paddock had criticized the Herald for predicting that Dallas would become “the great railroad centre of Texas” Note that the Herald refers to Dallas as “the Queen City of interior Texas.” That title surely rankled Paddock because Fort Worth fancied itself to be “the Queen City of the Prairies.”
On December 22, 1876, the Herald thumbed Dallas’s collective nose at Paddock yet again.
On June 16, 1877, the Herald reported that one of its reporters had accompanied a Dallas ball team to Fort Worth to “beard the Panther in its lair, and Paddock in his den.” The Herald referred to Fort Worth as “the wonderful ‘is to be’” and made light of Paddock’s desire for Fort Worth to catch up with Dallas in population. Referring to the origin of Fort Worth’s nickname “Panther City” two years earlier in the Herald, the Herald report said the panther that once “laid down” in sleepy Fort Worth was now dead and buried.
The Democrat was dead and buried in 1882, the Herald in 1885. But the Panther City-Big D rivalry seems to be pert near immortal.