The Great War transformed cowboys into doughboys

By Rachel Hawkins | DFW Newsflash | August 2017

The history of Fort Worth was influenced more by World War I than most people think. Since the year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I, the Fort Worth Central Library recently opened its “From Cowboy to Doughboy North Texas in WWI: Mobilization for ‘The Great War’” exhibit.

Jim Hodgson, Executive Director of the Fort Worth Aviation Museum, persuaded more than 20 sponsors to donate their personal collections in order to make the exhibit come to life.

“Fort Worth was so impacted by the first World War,” Jim Hodgson said. “Many people who are here now didn’t grow up here. So they simply don’t know how much the city was impacted by the war and how much the war meant to the city.

“The things we do, the roads we drive on today, the cars, the aviation all came from the first World War. We felt that it was important for the school kids and the residents to know more about their roots.”

Hodgson spoke about the impacts the war made on the city.

“The community can take away the new technology that came through and the old technology that went out,” Hodgson said. “The entire Stockyards movement in 1917, along with the discovery of oil. Texas was introduced to the world, and the world was introduced to Texas, and nothing was ever the same after that.

“I think it’s always important to learn about your roots and the things that happened. I look at history as being on a train leaving the station. The further away you get in time, the less detail you realize that was occurring there.

“This is an opportunity for people to learn what it was like living here 100 years ago. They can learn from the culture, they can learn from the experiences of others, the leadership of people who were here in Fort Worth at the time, and the multicultural aspects.”

Mary Sikes, the Fort Worth Library’s community awareness coordinator and a member of the World War I Exhibit Committee, enjoys the exhibit’s photographs and artifacts.

“People can get a sense of how World War I affected North Texas, specifically Fort Worth and the Camp Bowie area,” Sikes said. “The community can take away a sense of history, and a sense of pride, especially when you walk around to look at the panels. You can observe that every walk of life participated”.

“I think that this entire exhibit is a great history lesson for people who may not understand where cowboys to doughboys originally came from,” said Alan Glazener, a member of the World War I Exhibit Committee. “I believe it’s a great experience, and hopefully when you leave, you will have learned something.”

“From Cowboy to Doughboy North Texas in WWI: Mobilization for ‘The Great War’” exhibit will remain on display at the Fort Worth Central Library until Oct. 19.