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Friday, July 18, 2008

Fort Worth: Panther City:

Where the Panther Laid Down

In Loving Memory of Ms. Hazel Harvey Peace

The Legacy of “The Sleeping Panther”

The story of the sleeping panther - which inspired Fort Worth's nickname, Panther City - is inscribed on a granite plaque near the sculpture. In 1873, a nationwide depression was underway and many believed Fort Worth to be doomed economically. Robert E. Cowart, a former Fort Worth resident who practiced law in Dallas, wrote the Dallas Herald that he had "been to a meeting in Fort Worth the other day and things were so quiet I saw a panther asleep on Main Street, undisturbed by the rush of men or the hum of trade." B.B. Paddock, editor of the Fort Worth Democrat, took these comments as a challenge and had a new masthead engraved with a panther lying in front of the bluff and the motto "Where the Panther Laid Down."

The Panther Symbolism

A founding member of the Texas League in 1888, the Fort Worth Baseball team represented the rough and tumble times of the late 1800’s. The city had earned the nickname Panther City and the team adopted the name Panthers. The club won Texas League championships in 1895, 1905, and 1906, but it wasn’t until the management team of W.K. Stripling, Paul LaGrave, and their fiery manager Jake Atz that a truly special era of baseball was seen in Fort Worth.

From 1919 to 1925 the Fort Worth Panthers won the regular season title seven straight years. They lost the playoff of the 1919 season but for the next six years represented the Texas League in what became the Dixie Series… Amon Carter and other supporters would arrange special trains to transfer die-hard Panther fans to the contests. Five of the six Series Championships were won by Fort Worth, their only loss coming in 1922 to Mobile.

During the late teens and early twenties many major league teams trained in the south of Texas as well as Florida. As they broke camps and headed north the major league teams would play spring exhibitions in Fort Worth, Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and the New York Yankees, Rogers Hornsby and the St. Louis Cardinals all exhibited their skills in Fort Worth.

NOTE: The first two ballfields were located south of downtown near the T&P Rail station in an area called the Reservation and then Haynes Park. In 1911 J.Walter Morris built Panther Park north of downtown on the west side of Main St. Then, in 1926 W.K. Stripling and Paul LaGrave built a new Panther Park on the east side of Main St at seventh avenue and when Paul died in 1929 renamed it LaGrave Field.

The depression era saw a downtown turn in baseball attendance but Fort Worth continued their championship fortunes. Led by Frank Snyder in 1930, Homer Peel in 1937, and Bob Linton in 1939, Fort Worth again gained championship banners and continued their success in winning all three Dixie Series playoffs.

The I. M. Terrell Panthers

The Panther also was the mascot of I. M. Terrell High School, where Eddie Griffin attended school. The school’s chant:

QUESTION: I’ll be a Panther, who’ll be you?
REPLY: I’ll be a Panther too.

ISAIAH MILLIGAN [I. M.] TERRELL, (1859–1931). Isaiah Milligan Terrell, educator, was born on January 3, 1859, near the city of Anderson in Grimes County, Texas. Terrell was the son of Alexander, a blacksmith and Nancy (Oneil) Terrell. Terrell received a private education taught by two missionaries. He was a graduate of Straight University in New Orleans in 1881 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He also received his Master of Arts degree at Straight University.

In 1890 Terrell was named Principal and Superintendent of Colored Schools. The East Ninth Street School was moved to the corner of East Twelfth and Stedman streets in a property trade with the Fort Worth and Denver railroad in 1906, and renamed North Side Colored High School No. 11. In 1909 a bond election provided funds for a new building, which opened in May 1910. I. M. Terrell was named principal and served until 1915. In honor of its former principal, the school was named I. M. Terrell High School in 1921.

Hazel Harvey Peace (1907-2008)

Ms. Hazel Harvey Peace, 100, died June 8, 2008 at her Fort Worth home.

During her nearly 50-year career with the Fort Worth school district, Ms. Peace taught English, coached debate, and was a counselor, dean of girls and vice principal at I.M. Terrell High School.

Born August 4, 1907 in Panther City when “Fort Worth was still nothing but dirt”, Hazel Harvey Peace’s first aspirations were to become a lawyer but changed her mind.
"There was only one Negro lawyer in Fort Worth, and he was riding a bicycle and I didn't want to ride a bicycle," she said in an oral history for UNT.

Ms. Peace graduated from Fort Worth Colored High School when she was 13 years old and received her bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1923. She then began teaching at her alma mater, which had been renamed I.M. Terrell High School.
She taught generations of students many things outside standard curriculum, from proper posture and conduct to access to public libraries.

As the Terrell High School debate coach, she realized that while her students could not use the reference materials in the Fort Worth central library, they could demand to see the federal documents housed at the Texas Christian University Library.
When she took her debaters to the TCU library and requested the federal documents, the librarian asked if they would like to use the periodical room.

"I said, 'I definitely would,'” she said decades later. “I took my children in there and we spent the day there using the documents."

She also enrolled in Columbia University in New York, where she took courses in drama and stage building. She earned a master's degree in four summers.

She later continued to study in the summers at Vassar College, Atlanta University and Hampton College.

Ms. Peace put considerable effort into giving the Terrell students things other Fort Worth students had, including college preparatory classes.
While working with drama students, she enlisted the help of the shop teacher to build the school's first stage set.

I. M. Terrell: Eddie Griffin, Student-Teacher, Math (1963)

As I reflect, Ms. Peace, then vice principal of I. M. Terrell High School invited me to present a demonstration of the New Math to the PTA. Nobody else knew the “new math”, not even our math teacher, Mrs. Mabel Smith. As it turned out, I tutored Mrs. Smith in the new math and taught our junior class.

I had skipped the regular math curriculum by 1958, while in the 6th grade. Mr. Parker at Carroll M. Peak allowed me to run in math. By the end of the school year, I had completed every problem in every math book from the 6th to the 9th grade.

When I reached James E. Guinn Middle School, I began receiving my math lessons in the mail. That was when I learned the binary system and the different number bases, and concept such as inequalities. This was the “new math” in preparation of the coming computer age.

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