The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Book Reviews

The Fort That Became a City: An Illustrated Reconstruction of Fort Worth, Texas,
I849-1853. Drawings by William B. Potter; text by Richard F. Selcer. (Fort
Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1995. Pp. ix+x97. Acknowledg-
ments, illustrations, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-87565-
146-1. $19.95, paper.)
Fort Worth has long traded on its mythic image as the place "where the west
begins." Much of this claim is based on the years from 1849 to 1853 when the
outpost was a fort on the western frontier--on the "line" between Anglo and Na-
tive American territories. Accounts of the fort years have, however, been more
romanticized than factual because the city grew up over the fort, destroying the
physical evidence, and few primary records that can be used to flesh out the pic-
ture of fort life have survived. Sifting through government (mainly military)
records, the meager body of other primary resources, and the extant histories,
Richard F. Selcer endeavors to extract the elements that can be substantiated
from the popular body of fort mythology. He provides a description of the siting
of the fort, the construction of the buildings, the activities of the personnel, the
hardships faced on the frontier, and a running account of the endless bureau-
cracy of military operations, all of which add a great deal to our understanding
of Fort Worth. Despite the information that Selcer has confirmed, there is
much-the exact location of the fort, for example-about the history that re-
mains and may always remain uncertain.
The fort that Selcer describes was never intended as more than a temporary
outpost, a facility that protected the frontier more by simply being there than by
providing soldiers for extensive patrols or fighting skirmishes with the Indians.
Indeed, Fort Worth's major success was that it served as a place around which
settlers could gather. Unlike many other frontier outposts that were completely
abandoned after the military left, the people who remained in Fort Worth began
to build a town that has not only survived but also prospered.
This book grew out of William Potter's plan to build a replica of Fort Worth, a
dream as yet unrealized, and his drawings were originally produced for that pro-
ject. While they rely more heavily on the romanticized mythology of the fort
than does Selcer's text, the pen-and-ink illustrations put a much better face on
the building and grounds of the fort than do the few existing earlier images.
Dallas Publzc Library CAROL ROARK
Dallas Reconsidered: Essays in Local History. Edited by Michael V. Hazel. (Dallas:
Three Forks Press, 1995. Pp. vi+325. Preface, list of authors, index. ISBN o-
9637629-3-1. $25.00oo.)
The history of Dallas has been somewhat neglected. Lost among the Alamo
and San Jacinto of South Texas, the cowboy and ranching of West Texas, and
the Civil War-oil patch of East Texas, Dallas concentrated on the future.
But a new group of historians has recognized the richness of Dallas's past.
Their careful research and distinct interpretations make this history edited by
Michael V. Hazel unique and readable. The fourteen authors deal with such topics

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed July 13, 2014.