Some insults can be turned around and become a rallying cry. This is what happened in 1875 when Robert E. Cowart wrote a letter to the local Dallas newspaper stating that Fort Worth had become such a sleepy town and so sparsely populated that a panther was spotted sleeping on Main Street.
The country was facing a financial crisis and Fort Worth was failing as a result. The railroad line, being laid across north Texas, was forced to stop 30 miles before reaching Fort Worth.
Rather than succumb to defeat and certain abandonment, the city proudly adopted the name Panther City. Business men and citizens rallied together to complete the railroad and by July 19th 1876 the first train reached Fort Worth, placing it firmly on the commerce route of the railroad tracks.
Since the late 1800’s Fort Worth has embraced many nicknames: Queen City of the Prairie, Cowtown, Funky Town, Where the West Begins and Panther City.
Today each police badge in Fort Worth has a panther, several businesses (Panther City Distillery, Panther City Firearms) and a place of entertainment (Panther Island) are named for the panther.
And, as you might suspect, there is a panther statue that lays quietly near Main Street, much like the panther of 1875.
Last Sunday our Pastor talked about the help given to the Pilgrims by the Native Americans. How they helped the new settlers grow an abundance of crops and survive the first winters in a new land.
In my brain I began imagining what this country would have been like if the new settlers, and those that followed, had treated the Native Americans with respect. What if the people that settled this country chose to learn the ways of those that had lived here for thousands of years.
The Europeans that settled here in the United States chose to dominate instead of cooperate.
I wonder how many animals (the buffalo for example) would still roam freely? I wonder if we might have more trees instead of buildings? And maybe, we would have more respect for Mother Earth and less desire to destroy anything that doesn’t bring profit.
I know these thoughts aren’t reality but I think its ok to dream. Maybe if we look back on history and realize where we screwed up…we could make things better as we move forward…maybe.