Who the Heck Was . . . B. L. Waggoman?

Major thoroughfares such as McCart Avenue and Vickery Boulevard, of course, are not the only Fort Worth streets that carry a name from history.

Take, for example, Waggoman Street.

Waggoman Street consists of a disjointed two blocks of light industry east of the South Freeway and seven blocks between Hemphill Street and 6th Avenue: a working-class street of modest houses set behind ornate brick-and-iron fences, the curbs lined with pickups with oversized tires.
Behind that street of nine blocks is a man with a name of nine syllables.

Benjamin Lafayette Waggoman was born in Mississippi in 1869.

Waggoman and his family moved to Fort Worth in 1879. Ben helped his father, a Civil War veteran, support the family by selling the Fort Worth Gazette. Ben’s next income came from selling ice.

In 1894 Waggoman took over Godwin’s Livery Stable at Throckmorton and West 3rd streets.

Soon after he found his calling: He began buying and selling real estate.

He also became active in politics. In 1897 he was elected to the city council. He would serve five terms and be one of the last aldermen before the commission form of government was adopted in 1907.

In 1902 alderman Waggoman took part in ceremonies laying the cornerstone for the Swift and Armour packing plants. People in the photo identified with numbers written above their heads: 1. Board of Trade vice president Dr. J. L. Cooper, 2. Paul Waples, 3. unidentified, 4. alderman Tom Murray, 5. Waggoman, 6. Police Chief William Rea, 7. city waterworks superintendent Hugh L. Calhoun, 8. banker W. G. Newby, 9. cattleman and planter Van Zandt Jarvis, 10. civic leader J. J. Jarvis. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)

In 1904 Waggoman was one of the incorporators of Fairmount Land Company, which was founded to buy and sell land in Fairmount but eventually expanded beyond Fairmount. Other incorporators were William Capps and Woodson L. Ligon.

That same year Capps and others, including Mayor Thomas J. Powell, incorporated the Interurban Land Company.

Also in 1904 alderman Waggoman and Mayor Powell sold 201 acres south of the city along Hemphill Street to Interurban Land Company, which promptly sold the land to the Fort Worth Iron and Steel Company to build its steel plant and provide housing for employees.

And who were president and vice president of the steel company? Capps and Waggoman.
Secretary-treasurer was future mayor William Bryce.

Waggoman soon became a partner with Capps in Interurban Land Company in addition to Fairmount Land Company and the steel company.

By 1906 Interurban Land Company was selling land west of the steel plant (known informally as the “bolt factory”), which would be developed as the South Fort Worth addition. The addition included Waggoman Street.
In 1909 Fairmount Land Company sold seventy acres west of Fairmount to the city. That land became Forest Park zoo.

One year later Fort Worth was raising money to lure TCU to town from Waco. Fairmount Land Company offered to provide $100,000 worth of land and streetcar service and water, light, and sewer connections.

Waggoman and Capps—and Bryce—also were officers of Mount Olivet Cemetery.

In 1913 the South Fort Worth addition was still well beyond the city limits. That year Interurban Land Company sold land west of the bolt factory to the South Fort Worth county school district. On that land the district built South Fort Worth High School (today’s Richard Wilson Elementary School on Fogg Street two blocks south of Waggoman Street).
Ben Waggoman also donated 2.5 acres for the site of the Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital, which opened in 1918 west of Forest Park.

In 1923 Fairmount Land Company developed University Place addition northeast of TCU.

Benjamin Lafayette Waggoman—”Uncle Ben” to his friends—died in 1950.

He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

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