The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975

In Memoriam: Fred R. Cotten

FRED RIDER COTTEN, PRESIDENT OF THE TEXAS STATE HISTORICAL
Association from I962 to 1964, died at Harris Hospital in Fort Worth
on the morning of September 7, I974. Born in Weatherford on June 21,
1894, he was particularly proud of the fact that he had continued to sleep
in the bed in which he was born until he had to go to the hospital just a
few days before his death.
Following graduation from Weatherford High School, Cotten attended
The University of Texas, where he was a member of Kappa Alpha frater-
nity, managing editor of The Daily Texan, and a member of the Univer-
sity's "T" Association. He interrupted his studies at The University of Texas
Law School to attend Columbia University in New York, but returned to
receive his law degree from the University. Following graduation, he worked
with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and was one of the
agents assigned to the investigation of the German torpedoing of the ship
Lusitania in 1915. When his father died, Cotten returned to Weatherford
to take over the family furniture and undertaking business, in which posi-
tion he continued for fifty-two years until his death. The business, estab-
lished by his grandfather, has operated on the southeast corner of the
Weatherford square since 1881.
Cotten was a man of strong opinions, which he seldom hesitated in voic-
ing. For years he was Democratic chairman of precinct four in Weatherford,
and when his son ran for his first elective office, all sorts of people who had
never voted before streamed into the Weatherford courthouse, the principal
polling place, asking for "the Cotten box." As city commissioner of Weather-
ford during the Depression years, he was instrumental in the establishment
of a local Public Works Authority which paved and curbed many of the
Weatherford streets. The present Weatherford city hall and the Fort Worth
Street overpass were built while he was commissioner. Typically, since dur-
ing those years Weatherford was as near to being broke as other towns in
the United States, Cotten borrowed money on his personal note to help
the city provide facilities which he thought were necessary for the town's
development. He told me that it took him twenty years to pay off the debts
he incurred as city commissioner.
As a businessman he was quite successful, though his methods would have
driven a professor of business administration up the wall. He sent out no

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 78, July 1974 - April, 1975. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117149/. Accessed July 10, 2014.