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Historical documents added to exhibit

Central Library displays Fort Worth memorabilia to celebrate 150 years

by Sally Claunch
The Shorthorn staff

The university's Special Collections division on the Central Library's sixth floor received three significant documents to add to its exhibit, Cowtown to Boomtown: 150 Years of Fort Worth History.

Library Exhibits curator Kit Goodwin said the university is displaying the collection now because Fort Worth is celebrating its sesquicentennial.

"This is our way of helping Fort Worth celebrate 150 years of independence," she said.

Fort Worth resident William W. Collins donated three historical documents to the exhibit last week: a probate bond signed by Edward Tarrant, a letter written by William Jenkins Worth and a 1936 pencil sketch of the proposed site of the Frontier Centennial Celebration to commemorate 100 years of independence from Mexico.

Library Associate Director Gerald Saxon said these documents are important for the university because they go back to Fort Worth's earliest history.

"The strongest historical collections of Fort Worth and Tarrant County are here at UTA," he said. "These items enhance what we already have."

Edward Tarrant, for whom Tarrant County was named, was an executor of the probate document for an estate in Red River County. Saxon said the document is important because it contains Tarrant's signature. Tarrant was an attorney, farmer and Texas Ranger and served as a Justice of the Peace.

The letter written and signed by William Jenkins Worth, for whom Fort Worth is named, was written by Worth to the governor of Florida on July 10, 1841. At the time, Worth was fighting a campaign against the Seminole Indians.

Worth was made head of the Texas Military Establishment at the end of the Mexican-American War, and the military camp Fort Worth was named after him.

The pencil sketch is a 1936 drawing of the proposed grounds for the celebration of the Fort Worth Centennial, which was celebrated in 1949. Saxon said the celebration was similar to a world's fair and projected Texas into national prominence. He said the drawing is important because it sketches out buildings that are no longer there, such as the old Casa Maņana building.

Goodwin said Collins donated the documents in honor of his father and grandfather, who came to Fort Worth in 1881.

Collins said he has donated things to the Special Collections division before, and he wanted to be sure that these documents would be in safe keeping because they are valuable, although he could not speculate how much they're worth.

"The Special Collections division at UTA is first in the southwest for the way they handle the collection," he said. "There's nothing like it in Dallas or Fort Worth."