The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 56
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly
sions that were so industrious in compiling such statistics for major
metropolitan areas never made it to Fort Worth. We have to rely on less
authoritative sources. In 1877, a year after the railroad had come and
the cattle drives were peaking, the Fort Worth Dazly Democrat estimated
that "there are 40 women of this character now in the city, which is
a very small estimate." Eighteen months later, the same newspaper
counted "25 fancy, fair, and fancy-free girls" plying their trade. The
188o census for Tarrant County attempted to provide the first official
counting, in a day and age when "prostitute" was an admissible female
occupation. The census takers listed twenty-six prostitutes by name
within the city limits, including one "Jenny Patterson" who was listed
first as a "dressmaker," then that occupation scratched out and "pros-
titute" penciled in above it. Even this number cannot be taken as final
because a year later the Democrat listed just seventeen girls when it re-
ported that "all the girls were up to pay their 'occupation tax' [in the
Mayor's Court] yesterday."' There is not a single match-up in the two
lists of names, indicating either a major turnover in the prostitute
population in a matter of months, or else a much bigger fraternity of
strange women than either source alone records.
No figures can be drawn from the 1890 census since those records no
longer exist, except in fragmentary form, for the entire country. By
1900 only a half-dozen local girls were willing to admit to being prosti-
tutes when queried by census takers. There is no way to tell under the
"Occupation" heading who else might have been a prostitute and who
was a legitimate "boarder" or "housekeeper," both popular euphe-
misms for the profession. Nor does the city directory offer any clues
because none of the women listed as "prostitute" in the 1 900 census ap-
pear in the directory.
For a fuller picture of prostitution in Fort Worth one must turn to
fragmentary jail records, city council minutes, and newspaper reports
of the period. There has been only one scholarly study of nineteenth-
century prostitution in Texas.4 While much anecdotal material exists on
El Paso, Austin, and San Antonio, there is not even this for Fort Worth.
Much of Fort Worth's experience can be extrapolated from these other
cities, but there are also some significant differences.
3Fort Worth Daily Democrat, Nov 24, 1877 (Ist quotation), Ibid , Apr. 27, 1879 (2nd quota-
tion); United States Tenth Census (1880), Tarrant County, Texas, Supervisor's District No 3,
Enumeration District 89, pp 14 and 17, Enumeration District go, pp. 10o and 14, Fort Worth
Democrat, Nov 1, 1881 (3rd quotation) (The Democrat, in daily and weekly editions, and under
the editorship of B. B. Paddock, went through several name changes during its ten-year
4David C. Humphrey, "Prostitution and Pubhc Policy in Austin, Texas, 1870-1915," South-
western Hzstoncal Quarterly, LXXXVI (Apr. 1983), 473-516.
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/82/: accessed April 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.