Amon G. Carter

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Amon G. Carter, Sr. (December 11, 1879 – June 23, 1955) was the creator and publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and a nationally known civic booster for Fort Worth, Texas. A legacy in his will was used to create Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum,[1] which was founded by his daughter, Ruth Carter Stevenson, in January 1961.[2]

Biography[edit]

Carter was born in Crafton, Texas. After his mother died in 1892, he moved away from his remaining family, to Bowie, Texas, where he supported himself with a variety of odd jobs. At those jobs, he learned salesmanship, and became a travelling salesman as a young man.[3] Bowie Residents have recalled that he was one of the original "chicken & bread boys" which sold what they called chicken sandwiches to passengers at the rail station during the depression.[4] The sandwiches it was thought were really made of rabbits that the boys had hunted. Bowie has an annual Chicken & Bread Festival each October.

Publisher[edit]

In May 1905, Carter accepted a job as an advertising space salesman in Fort Worth. A few months later, he agreed to help finance and run a new newspaper in town. The Fort Worth Star printed its first newspaper on February 1, 1906, with Carter as the advertising manager. The Star lost money, and was in danger of going bankrupt when Carter had an audacious idea: raise additional money and purchase his newspaper's main competition, the Fort Worth Telegram.[5] In November 1908, the Star purchased the Telegram for $100,000, and the two newspapers combined on January 1, 1909 into the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.[6][citation needed]

From 1923 until after World War II, the Star-Telegram had the largest circulation of any newspaper in the South, serving not just Fort Worth but also West Texas, New Mexico, and western Oklahoma. The newspaper created WBAP, the oldest radio station in Fort Worth, in 1922; and followed it with Texas' first television station, WBAP-TV, in 1948.[7]

Civic booster[edit]

This Cadillac owned by Amon G. Carter, Sr., is displayed at the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.

Carter parlayed this money and power into celebrity as a national spokesman for Fort Worth and West Texas (Carter popularized the description of Fort Worth as "Where the West Begins", a phrase which still appears daily on the Star-Telegram's front page). During the 1920s and 1930s, Carter personified the image of the Texas cowboy in the national mind: an uninhibited story-teller, gambler, and drinker, generous with his money and quick to draw his six-shooters. Major magazines such as Time and the Saturday Evening Post ran profiles of Carter, and he counted Will Rogers and Walter Winchell among his friends. The well-publicized hospitality of his Shady Oak Farm near Lake Worth was open to any major celebrity or businessman passing through Fort Worth.[8]

Carter used his national stage to drum up business and government spending for his home region. From the Texas state legislature, he got a four-year college (now Texas Tech University) for Lubbock, where he was first chairman of the Board of Directors.[9] He persuaded Southern Air Transport (now American Airlines) to move its headquarters from Dallas to nearby Fort Worth. Several oil companies moved or kept their headquarters in Fort Worth after personal interventions by Carter.

Carter's disdain for Dallas, Fort Worth's much larger and much richer neighbor, was legendary in Texas. One of the best-known stories about Carter is that he would take a sack lunch whenever he traveled to Dallas so he wouldn't have to spend any money there.[10] Another took place at a ceremony at the county line between Tarrant and Dallas counties to officially bury the hatchet on the rivalry between the two cities. Carter and other leaders from both Fort Worth and Dallas were each presented with hatchets and shovels to bury them with. As the ceremony was wrapping up, a young reporter mentioned to Carter that the handle of his hatchet was still sticking out of the ground, to which Carter replied that he was well aware and that he might need his hatchet later.[citation needed]

After World War II, Carter stopped barnstorming on behalf of Fort Worth. In 1953, he suffered the first of several heart attacks; the final one, two years later, was fatal. On June 23, 1955 he died in Fort Worth, Texas. He was buried in Greenwood Memorial Cemetery in Fort Worth.[11]

Legacy[edit]

The main entry to Texas Tech University, Amon G. Carter Plaza
  • Fort Worth's former commercial Airport (whose remains may be seen just north of 183 before you enter DFW airport and the current location of the American Airlines corporate headquarters), bore his name as Amon G. Carter Airfield. The airport was later changed to Greater Southwest International Airport before operations moved to DFW in 1974 and demolition in 1979. The main runway was later repaved as Amon Carter Boulevard.
  • Amon Carter Peak in Big Bend National Park is named in honor of Carter's contributions to the establishment of the park.
  • The main auditorium at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law is named after Amon Carter. It was a gift of the Amon G. Carter Foundation.
  • Amon G. Carter Lake in Bowie Texas is also named after Mr. Carter.

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