Livestock Legacy : The Fort Worth Stockyards, 1887-1987
By J’Nell L. Barnes
A hundred years ago a simple business arrangement changed the course of Fort Worth’s economy for years to come and its character perhaps forever. On July 26, 1887, the Union Stock Yards Company received a charter to do business in an area just north of town. The legacy of that charter: Cowtown.
J’Nell L. Pate has spent ten years researching the Fort Worth market, with full access to company records and local archives. The result is a thorough, thoughtful, and colorful examination of the industry and its effects on this city.
The early years of the stockyards were years of struggle for local businessmen, but in 1902, national giants Swift and Armour assumed a two-thirds interest in the operations, and from there the market grew to be the largest in the Southwest—-and one of the three or four largest in the nation. Decentralization after World War II saw local country auctions and later large feedlot operations set the market on a decline. Pate describes typical days during various periods of the market’s existence; regales with anecdotes about traders, packers, and shippers; examines the successes and failures of the owners and managers; and impartially evaluates the policies and practices of national moguls Armour and Swift. Her study demonstrates the interrelatedness of the Fort Worth market and the larger Texas agribusiness scene and gives many new insights into the livestock industry generally.