Once Upon a Crime: Rocks, Clocks, and Maggie Got a Shovel

Here is a sample of local crime reportage in Fort Worth newspapers of the late nineteenth century.

In 1885 reckless boys were raising heck on the east end of town.

By 1897 Fort Worth had an 8:45 p.m. curfew for children. The Texas Brewing Company was located where the Intermodal Transportation Center is today.

In 1886 a warrant charged A. F. Truitt with being obnoxious near a private house.

Vice accounted for much of the crime in town, and Fort Worth’s vice district was Hell’s Half Acre, which in 1886 had the African-American counterpart of uptown’s White Elephant Saloon. In 1907 co-arresting officer Ben Bell would take part in a much bigger arrest.

Sometimes crime in the Acre got ugly, as in 1888 when the two parties in a business transaction disagreed over the terms of their contract, and one party brought in a coal shovel to mediate. (A bagnio was a brothel.) And, yes, that’s A. F. Truitt, who two years earlier had been charged with being obnoxious. (Today that Rusk Street address is on Commerce Street where the convention center is.)

In 1889 the life of Maggie Estar/Estes ended in a manner common among women of her profession back then: She committed suicide by taking an overdose of morphine.

Gracie Lane continued to work. In 1890 she and Josie Belmont, another Acre madam, were fined for vagrancy (prostitution).

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2 Responses to Once Upon a Crime: Rocks, Clocks, and Maggie Got a Shovel

  1. Barry Richhart says:

    Mike I never tire of reading your pieces. It pleases me that there are still people who love this town and its history. May it never be forgotten!
    God bless you!

    • hometown says:

      Thanks for your encouragement, Barry. Sometimes it seems as if the past holds as many surprises as the future does.

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