Walter T. Maddox biography

WALTER T. MADDOX. No citizen of Fort Worth is more widely known or highly regarded than Walter T. Maddox. He was born in Troop county, Georgia, being a son of Colonel W. A. and Mary A. (Mays) Maddox, whose history will be found on other pages of this work. The son Walter was about four years old when taken by his parents to Claiborne parish, Louisiana, being there reared on a plantation, and before reaching his eighteenth year enlisted in the Confederate army as a cavalryman in the Fifth Louisiana Battalion under General Harrison. His services were principally in Louisiana and along the Mississippi river, and during the latter part of the struggle served under the command of General Brint. His squadron was placed north of the Red river on picket and scouting duty, and were the means of cutting off Federal aid to General Banks on his expedition up that river and captured many Union soldiers, also in many other ways assisting in bringing about the defeat of that general’s army at the battle of Mansfield.

After a military career of over two years Mr. Maddox returned to his home, and was there engaged in agricultural pursuits until 1873, when he started west, without any particular objective place, but with a view of finding a new and good country in which to establish a home. He had previously married Miss Sallie Hightower, a native of Georgia, and on the journey he was accompanied by his wife and their only child, Rosa, who is now Mrs. T. L. Brown, of San Antonio, Texas. They had a wagon and hack, with good horses, and were well equipped for the journey. On arriving at Fort Worth, at that time not much more than a frontier settlement, without railroad facilities, Mr. Maddox was at first not favorably impressed with the place, but on being shown about the town by Captain Paddock, who in those days, as he has ever even continued to be, was a great “boomer” for the city, and was so enthusiastic in his predictions as to what it was destined to become that Mr. Maddox decided to locate. he accordingly established himself in the livery business, and immediately joined hands with Captain Paddock in booming the town. He prospered in his undertakings, and continued in the livery business until 1880, when he was elected to the office duties connected with that official position that he was three times re-elected, being its incumbent for six years.

Mr. Maddox’s record as sheriff is one of which he may be justly proud, and constitute his chief title to fame in the Lone Star state. He assumed the duties of the office as a time when lawlessness had grown to such proportions that criminals and disreputable characters were but feebly combatted, and Fort Worth was almost daily subjected to fights, brawls, murders and many other depredations. But the lawless element soon found that Mr. Maddox was a man of determination, sterling worth and absolutely fearless, with a sole aim of preserving law and order and protecting citizens and their property. Surrounding himself with a picked corps of deputies known for their bravery and devotion to duty, it was not long until Fort Worth was enjoying the peace and quiet of a law-abiding community. Several notable murder and other cases were handled by the sheriff and his force during his term of office, chief among which may be mentioned the Knights of Labor strike, principally among railroad employe[e]s, in 1886, the last of Mr. Maddox’s regime. This was the occasion of much rioting and public disturbance, and to quell that he swore in a force of two hundred men, among them being many well known residents of the city. At the close of his term of office his official affairs were in such excellent condition that he was enabled to close up all matter with the board of county commissioners in half an hour, leaving a clean and honorable record, for which he was given special credit with commendation by that board in a statement for the press which they prepared in a statement for the press which they prepared on that occasion. Up to that time he was the only man who had served the county as sheriff three terms.

During the year following his retirement from office Mr. Maddox was engaged in the real estate business, after which he became a partner with Mr. Ellisonin the furniture trade, with the firm name of Maddox, Ellison & Company. After ten years of continued prosperity as a member of that firm Mr.¬†Maddox sold his interest to his partner and became a member of the furniture firm of Fakes & Company, in which he remained about one year. On the expiration of that period on account of ill health he decided to withdraw therefrom and again take up the real estate business, in which he has ever since been continuously engaged, conducting a general real estate and rental business, with offices in the Wheat building. Some years ago he purchased for his residence the old Joe Brown home, one of the historic places of Fort Worth, and this he remodeled and refurnished, making it an ideal home. He also owns considerable business property in the city, and prior to the depression of 1893, with his brother, Colonel Robert E. Maddox, he was one of its largest taxpayers. Ever since taking up his residence here he has been a generous contributor to all public enterprises designed to promote the city’s growth and upbuilding, one of his first benefactions being a liberal contribution to the Texas & Pacific Railroad to locate in Fort Worth. He possesses those qualities which constitutes true citizenship, and whether in public or civil life will serve his fellow men well.

Four children have been added to the family of Mr. and Mrs. Maddox in Texas, namely: Mrs. Emma Covey, Walter T., Jr., Mrs. Eula Billheimer and H. Clyde Maddox. Mr. Maddox is a member of R. E. Lee Camp, U. C. V., in which he holds pleasant relations with his old army comrades of the gray, also of the Masonic order and the First Methodist church.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, Vol. II (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 72-73.