|Special Collections Division
the University of Texas
at Arlington Libraries
Vol. XV II* No. 2 * Fall 2003
The Estate of Minnie Meacham Carter (1902-1996), widow of Fort Worth Star-Telegram publisher, art collector and philanthropist Amon G. Carter, Sr. (1879-1955), donated more than forty records center cartons of material on the Meacham and Carter families in January, 2003. Mrs. Carter was the daughter of department store merchant and former Fort Worth mayor, Henry Clay Meacham (1869-1929), and Margaret Bean Meacham, a pillar in the Junior Womanís Club. The couple had four daughters, Mary Meacham Brants, Margaret Meacham Hightower, Katherine Meacham and Minnie Meacham Smith Carter. Minnie Meacham graduated from National Park Seminary in Forest Glen, Maryland, in 1922. Returning to Fort Worth, she was a 1923 Assembly debutante and Stock Show queen, and was active in the family mercantile business. The widow of Glen (Buck) Smith, Minnie Meacham became the third wife of Amon G. Carter in 1947. Following Carterís death in 1955, she continued to live in their Rivercrest mansion, staying active in the Fort Worth Opera Association and Fort Worth Garden Club well into her eighth decade.
Amon G. Carter, Sr. and Henry C. Meacham had more in common than Minnie Meacham Carter. Meacham and Carter were once business partners in a ranch at Eagle Mountain Lake. A schism developed between them causing Meacham to cease advertising in the Star-Telegram. This adversely affected both parties: considerable lost advertising revenue to the newspaper and substantial lost exposure to the H. C. Meacham Company. It is said that following H. C. Meachamís death, the department store once again began to advertise in the Star-Telegram.
The Meacham/Carter Family Papers focus on the personal, business and political interests of H. C. Meacham and his family. Born in Senatobia, Mississippi, Meacham opened a dry goods business in Huntsville, Texas, in 1897. The enterprise was moved to Athens, Texas, for a few years. The year 1904 found the H. C. Meacham Company in Fort Worth where it became the premiere department store of its day. The store outgrew several earlier locations on Houston Street near the county courthouse. At the time of H. C. Meachamís death in 1929, the department store was located between Main and Houston streets on 12th, a structure Meacham built some twelve years earlier. The Meacham store stayed in family hands until the mid-1930ís.
Over half the collection is represented by ledgers and other business records of the H. C. Meacham Company. The records include an account ledger of Meachamís Huntsville operation, 1897-1900. Fort Worth store records range in date from 1907 to 1937 and include correspondence, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, cash books, ledgers, receipts and disbursements, expense sheets, departmental sales, clerk sales, merchandise journals, payroll, repairs, COD daily records, and mail order and advertising reports. In addition, the Meacham Company records yield photos of the store, its display windows, its 1927 womanís basketball team and a program pamphlet commemorating its 1929 silver anniversary.
Other Meacham business interests represented in the collection include the KFJZ radio station. The records of KFJZ include account statements and cash receipts and disbursements dating from 1930-1931. References to the Light Crust Doughboys can be found within the pages of these radio records.
Meachamís general business correspondence reveals his efforts to attract a Blue Bonnet Hotel to one of the three corners he owned at 12th Street and Commerce. 12th Street was being considered as a route for the main highway east. That fact plus the hope of locating the bus terminal nearby made the 12th Street location attractive to developers. Fort Worthís Blackstone Hotel started out to be a Blue Bonnet Hotel, but the project grew out of Blue Bonnetís "popular priced hotel" character causing the affiliation to cease.
The H. C. Meacham estate records, 1929-1934, include correspondence, legal and financial records. They document the challenges of operating extensive business enterprises during the Depression.
Meacham was elected councilman and mayor in 1925, the first City Council to work under the city manager concept of city government. Accomplishments of his tenure as mayor include the opening of the city airport, named Meacham Field, honoring his nurture of that project. His mayoral correspondence, 1925-1927, reveals not only the mundane aspects of the mayoral office, but is also rich in issues and intrigue. H. C. Meacham became embroiled in the controversy surrounding First Baptist Church minister, J. Frank Norrisí trial for the murder of Meachamís friend, D. E. Chipps. Meacham hired special prosecutors to press the case against Norris. The newspapers of the time were strongly critical of him. One can find threatening letters as well as strong letters of support in Meachamís mayoral papers.
The remainder of the Meacham papers include personal and family correspondence, keepsakes, clippings and printed material. Review of these items offers a glimpse into the family history, travels, and community involvements of the prominent Meacham family. Minnie Meacham Carterís papers include school papers, personal correspondence, much of it dating to her young womanhood and the years she was married to Buck Smith. The deluge of telegrams received by Mrs. Carter upon her husbandís death in 1955 include messages of condolence from friends and dignitaries nationwide, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Billy Rose, and Henry R. Luce. Memorials to Amon G. Carter, Sr. include tributes from American Airlines and the Fort Worth National Bank.
The bulk of Amon G. Carter, Sr.ís business papers reside at Texas Christian University; those pertaining to his art collection remain at the Amon Carter Museum. This small amount of Amon Carterís business papers in the Meacham/Carter Family Papers does offer insight into Carterís work at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and his interests in Braniff Airlines, American Airlines, and Amon Carter Field. Some personal Amon Carter correspondence dating to the time of his second marriage to Nenetta Burton Carter is extant, primarily Christmas cards. The most eye-catching of these is a 1931 richly colored Art Deco greeting from John Ringling of Ringling Brothers Circus. Graphic materials in the collection pertaining to Amon Carter, Sr. include photographs of dinner parties, honors received, and portions of his art collection hanging in office and residential settings; Associated Press photos unrelated to the family; and plans for the landscaping of the entrance to Amon Carter Field.
Amon G. Carter, Jr. is represented in the Meacham/Carter Family Papers as well. Prominent among his papers is correspondence he received while in a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, including letters from his father and his grandmother, Mrs. Willard G. Burton. The photos of Amon, Jr. are primarily candid images from his young adulthood. His interest in philately is well documented by innumerable envelopes sporting commemorative stamps.
UTA Libraries Special Collections has long housed the Fort Worth Star-Telegram archive of photographic prints and negatives and newspaper clippings. The gift of the Meacham/Carter Family Papers is the perfect complement to the newspaper archive, providing insights into the personal and business affairs of two of Fort Worthís eminent families - Meacham and Carter. Their legacies in the business, politics, and culture of Fort Worth will positively impact generations to come.
As yet unprocessed, access to the Meacham/Carter Family Papers is currently available through a box level inventory. Please contact Brenda McClurkin at (817) 272-7512 or email@example.com for further information about this collection.
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This page last update on Wednesday, November 05, 2003