Friday, September 6, 2013

An Old Fort Worth Letterhead With a Great Map & Bankhead Highway History

In 1925 Hugh H. Lewis Jr. owned an auto garage in Fort Worth that was doing booming business.  I collect a few Fort Worth letterheads and had never gotten around to scanning this particular sheet.  Other than the fine letterhead, the face of the letter is not terribly interesting. It is simply an authorization for an attorney to do some land work for him. In 1925 Hugh Lewis had ranching interests in West Texas and as would be expected, was into the oil play of the era..

In the process, I did a little historical review on Mr. Lewis and found that he was an interesting, well known person.

02-09-1909 Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Lewis was one of the earliest Fort Worth auto enthusiasts and by 1909 had his garage in operation and was selling automobiles. He was a friend of Weatherford banker H. W. Kuteman, another enthusiast who was promoting good roads in North Texas.  Kuteman was instrumental in getting a more direct route from Fort Worth to Weatherford and a section of the earliest Tarrant County portion of the Bankhead Highway was eventually named the "Kuteman Cutoff".

The Lewis family was socially prominent and as the clip above shows, he sometimes acted as an ambassador for the city when prominent people visited.

08-08-1909-Fort Worth Star-Telegram
In 1909, Hugh Lewis was selling both Peerless and Franklin automobiles. One of the best ways to sell cars in those early days was to be a little bit of a daredevil and push your vehicle out into the wilds to test its road worthiness..

Later, in 1912 he was involved in the notorious Rev. Frank J. Norris shooting trial as he apparently was one of the first witnesses that accompanied Norris back into the church after the gunfire.  Norris was acquitted after a spectacular trial.

1925 Fort Worth Map <click image to enlarge>
Perhaps the most interesting part of this piece of Fort Worth ephemera is the 1925 city map that I found on the reverse.  The map was published just before the Federal highway numbering came into effect in 1926. It is very well done with with good, automotive related captioning.  Because of its detail, it would have been very useful to any city visitor that was using either the Bankhead Highway or the north-south Meridian Highway.

The practice of placing maps or illustrations on the back of letterhead paper has long ago been abandoned.  But they are very valuable in producing unique history when they turn up.

1 comment:

  1. Any ideas as to what the double circles with the lines through them represent on the map? Trolley stops? City limits? Gas stations?