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First lawyer in Fort Worth

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#1 detail larry

detail larry

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 08:04 PM

Charles A Harper , was fort Worths first lawyer , he came here from New Hampshire in 1849. During the early years college trained lawyers were not common , but our first school teacher , John Peter Smith came here in 1853 and studied law at nite , was admitted to the bar in 1860 . He was also one of the cities first surveyors !

#2 John S.

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 10:08 PM

Larry, I applaud your interest in Fort Worth's early history. While Charles A. Harper likely did arrive in Texas in 1849, (as immigrants were pouring into Texas as well as the Forty-Niners and Oregon Trail settlers passing as they headed further west) doubtful he went straight to Fort Worth. (unless he served with Ripley Arnold at the Fort) Until June of that year, there was no Fort, no town, and it was a couple of years after establishment of the Fort that a few civilian farmers, tradespeople, and businessmen-professionals  arrived so that the genesis of the future town got underway. Although historian Julia Kathryn Garrett credits Harper with being the town's first Lawyer, his exact time of arrival in what she calls "Fort Town"  is not established in her book.  Joseph Christopher Terrell (who wrote about Fort Worth's early days in 1906) was on his way to the California gold fields when he chanced upon an old friend from Boonville, Missouri, a fellow young lawyer Dabney C. Dade. Together, they set up an early law office. I'll have to go back and see if Terrell mentions Harper and the time of his arrival. Many early Fort Worth residents had previously lived in the older settled East Texas (like the Daggetts) before coming here. Another well know early Fort Worth Law Firm was Hanna & Hogsett which wrote the first city charter in 1873 and following the disastrous Courthouse fire in 1876, loaned their firm's copy of deed records to help reconstruct the destroyed deed files. These larger than life figures from Fort Worth's early days are often forgotten but without them our city could never have become what it is 164 years later.

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