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Fort Worth Flashback: County seat was swiped from Birdville

Posted July 30, 2012

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Birdville was the largest town and the seat of Tarrant County in the 1850s. Many settlers, however, already had moved into the area surrounding the Fort Worth outpost. When the troops left, residents converted the military buildings into schools, stores and churches.

Ambitious Fort Worth residents called a courthouse election, sparking a bitter campaign. As legend has it, Birdville had a barrel of whisky, intended for use on Election Day, but Fort Worth residents learned about it, siphoned off the liquor, took it to their town and gave it to voters.

Fort Worth won the election by a narrow margin, though Birdville supporters asserted that men who did not live in the county had voted for Fort Worth. Jubilant residents rushed to Birdville, loaded the county records on a wagon and proceeded triumphantly to the new county seat.

Trades and business began to thrive in Fort Worth. In 1873, with a population of 500, leaders decided that Fort Worth should incorporate. Dr. W.P. Burts was elected mayor.

This photo shows downtown Fort Worth in the 1880s.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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