105 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, TX  •  817-624-1246 H3 Ranch Restaurant Fort Worth

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Historic H3 Ranch

H3 Ranch, Live Hickory Wood Grill is founded on the rich and lively history of Fort Worth and the historic Stockyards District. In the 1800s, three brothers emigrated to the U.S. from Scotland with their parents. The brothers - William, Robert and David Hunter - enjoyed the opportunities and excitement presented to them in America's Old West. The name "H3" stands for the three Hunter brothers, who owned the H3 Ranch located in Nebraska. Descendants of the Hunter Brothers developed the H3 Ranch concept of great food cooked in front of guests in a casual, comfortable atmosphere.

Today, the pioneering spirit of the Hunter Brothers lives on at H3 Ranch, where we're constantly developing new recipes that will keep our guests coming back time after time. Many of our dishes, such as Wife of Kit Carson Soup and Oatmeal Flapjacks, date back to the cattle driving days of the last century. Come on in, learn more about us and enjoy the best of the west at H3 Ranch.The history of H3 Ranch, delightful dÈcor and imcomparable menu makes it Ft. Worth's most unique steakhouse.

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Hunter Brothers Robert, William and David

The Hunter Brothers of Ayre County, Scotland emigrated to America with their parents in 1844. Hearty and adventurous, the Hunter Brothers were eager for excitement.

David, the youngest of the three, joined the Union Army in 1861 at the age of 17 and fought with Gen. William T. Sherman during the historic March to the Sea. Robert, the eldest, and his brother William prospected for gold in Colorado and Arizona during the Gold Rush years of the mid-1860s.

By 1865, the three Hunter Brothers had returned to the Midwest, where they were eventually recruited by William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody to hunt buffalo needed for hungry workers laying railroad tracks across the continent.

In 1873, along with Albert G. Evans, the brothers founded Hunter and Evans, a livestock commission company, with offices in Ft. Worth, East St. Louis, Illinois and Kansas City. The Ft. Worth offices were located at the corner of Main and Exchange Streets in the developing Stockyards District. When the railroad linked Ft. Worth to other principal cities in 1876, Hunter and Evans organized Texas’ first railway shipment of cattle to market.

As the turn of the century drew near, William Hunter worked out of the Ft. Worth office as a cattle buyer traveling by horseback from Montana to Mexico. Robert directed cattle marketing and ranching ventures for Hunter and Evans and thereafter founded Texas Pacific Coal & Oil Company in Thurber, Texas. David managed the Hunter brothers ranching operations, including the H3 ranch. The trio remained close throughout their lives. Their love of the West and pioneering spirit lives on at H3 Ranch, Live Hickory Wood Grill.

The Stockyards Hotel and Ft. Worth: A Rich History

Long before Colonel William Thannisch erected the Stockyards Hotel, western pioneers founded an outpost on a bluff of the Trinity River that would eventually turn into a boomtown called Ft. Worth.

Ft. Worth: Where the West Begins

Although white men first appeared in the early 1800s on the Great Plains fringes that would eventually become known as Ft. Worth, the area's original inhabitants were proud and hardy Native Americans. Lured by an abundance of buffalo, the Comanche, Apache, Kiowa, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Caddo, Tonkawa, Osage and Wichita tribes roamed the prairie and built encampments next to a dozen life-sustaining rivers and creeks. By turns both fierce and friendly, the Native Americans were forced to migrate by the mid-1800s as anxious white settlers and their families rushed in from Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and even England to settle the upper Trinity River and its West Fork. In 1843, Republic of Texas Commissioners signed a treaty with 10 Native American tribes dividing the area. Native Americans were restricted to the left of an imaginary line; white men overtook all land to east. As a result, Ft. Worth is still known today as the geographical point "where the west begins."

William Jenkins Worth: A Fort Worth Fighting For

As the Native Americans retreated from North Texas, United States-Mexican relations deteriorated to the point of war. Major General William Jenkins Worth, a hero of the Seminole War in Florida and the Mexican War, assumed command of the Texas frontier in January of 1849. A month later, Worth sent Brevet Brigadier General William S. Harney to reconnoiter northern Texas for a future chain of protective forts with the northernmost point of the chain set on the West Fork of the Trinity River. A spot was chosen near the foot of a bluff on the bank of the Trinity, and on June 6, 1849 Harney's men encamped at the site. Major General Worth succumbed to cholera in San Antonio, and Camp Worth was posthumously christened in his honor. Unfortunately, the encampment was located on a flood plain, and eventually was relocated atop a bluff facing north and overlooking the mouth of the Trinity's Clear Fork. With the raising of the U.S. flag on November 14, 1849, the United States War Department officially established Fort Worth. Thought by some to be a candidate for the U.S. presidency before his untimely death, Worth never visited the post that bore his name.

From Birdville to Boomtown

Four days before Christmas in 1849, the Texas Legislature formally recognized the West Fork and Clear Fork vicinity of the Trinity River into 860 square miles known as Tarrant County, named for General Edward H. Tarrant. The county seat was voted on as well: Birdville, the largest village at the time, was selected. In 1856, Fort Worth citizens came to believe that their town should bear this honor, and the legislature was lobbied to relocate the county seat. Under pressure from Fort Worthians, the legislature called a special election in November 1846 and residents from both burgs campaigned vigorously.

On election day, voters in Fort Worth's public square indulged in complimentary whiskey dipped from barrels conveniently placed outside the mercantiles. Birdville planned to use the same inducements to lure voters, but vigilant Fort Worth "scouts" discovered the hidden Birdville whiskey stash and drained it dry the night before the election. As election day progressed, it appeared that Fort Worth would be beaten by Birdville. Late in the afternoon, recruiters were sent out to bring in more Fort Worth voters. A former Tarrant County farmer arrived with 14 cowhands who marked ballots just before the polls closed, thus helping shift the victory to Fort Worth. Although Birdville lost the county seat, the bitter rivalry did not end there. Quarrels and gunfights ensued between the citizens of the two towns for more than decade after the election.

Putting Fort Worth on the Map

While northern states suffered from a beef shortage immediately following the Civil War, great herds of Texas cattle roamed across the state. To drive the cattle toward the hungry markets, ambitious cowboys equipped with guns and lariats traveled northward for weeks that stretched into months. Often at the mercy of Texas’ unpredictable weather and diverse terrain, the cowboys gratefully sought refuge in Fort Worth before journeying across the Red River and into dangerous Indian territory where raiding parties attached trail drivers as late as the 1870s.

Fort Worth offered plenty of grazing for the northern-bound cattle, but cowboys also sought the entertainment provided by local saloons. Nightlife in Fort Worth offered fights, gambling, and dancing with beautiful ladies of dubious reputation. Stores that stocked the staples required for trail life – rifles, ammunition, flour, coffee and bacon – turned handsome profits.

After a tick fever quarantine forced longhorn cattle to remain in Texas for nearly a year before being transported to Kansas for processing, it became evident that Fort Worth needed a railroad to ship cattle directly to market centers. In 1871, the United States Congress chartered a southern transcontinental railroad which would become the Texas and Pacific. In 1874, leading citizens donated 320 acres on the south side of town for a depot, roundhouse and yards, and the Texas and Pacific formally designated Fort Worth as the eastern terminus for the route to San Diego, California.

Between 1873 and 1881, the Texas and Pacific Railway constructed 972 miles of track in Texas. B.B. Paddock published the "tarantula map" – so named because the railroad lines looked like the legs of a spider. Today, Fort Worth's "Tarantula Train" is a popular Stockyards landmark. Paddock also published Fort Worth's first daily newspaper, the Fort Worth Daily Democrat.

Hell's Half Acre

Where could a cowboy with a thirst for excitement find pleasure during the 1870s? Located in the vicinity of Commerce (later Rusk) and Twelfth streets, Hell's Half Acre was a haven for desperadoes, outlaws, gamblers and drifters who roamed its saloons, dance halls, brothels and casinos. During the Acre's heyday in 1872, the area offered refuge to the worst of Ft. Worth's criminal elements. Shootings, knifings, muggings and brawls occurred every night. The Red Light, the Acre's most popular prostitution establishment, boasted 40 rooms.

Although Fort Worth residents crusaded for the Acre to be reformed, elected officials hesitated to interfere with the wild frontier image so as not to discourage visitors, such as cowboys and buffalo hunters, from enjoying the entertainment. Laws and ordinances established to control the area were ignored; in fact, politicians routinely passed out cigars and bought drinks in the Acre saloons. However, by 1889 the reform movement had significantly affected the Acre, although it remained in existence until after the turn of the century.

Start of the Stockyards

Since the 1870s, city fathers had been discussing how to turn Ft. Worth into a profitable meat-processing center. In 1890, 30 area businessmen and a handful of Texas cattle barons created the Texas Dressed Beef and Packing Company in North Ft. Worth. Next to the plant was the Union Stockyards Company. Not to be outdone, Louville Niles and others formed the Ft. Worth Stockyards Company in 1893. With the expectation of establishing operations in the area, officials from Armour and Company visited Ft. Worth. Swift and Company, a competitor, began considering the same idea. Ft. Worth leaders convinced both companies to build plants. In 1901, the stockyards of the Texas Dressed Beef and Packing Company were reoganized under J. Ogden Armour as president and E.E. Swift as vice president, and in 1902 construction on the meat packing facilities began.

By 1909, demand required Swift and Armour to enlarge the stockyards. Daily production was increased to 5,000 hogs and 3,000 cattle. When fire gutted the plants in 1911, the companies rebuilt using steel and concrete, and a system of fire hydrants was included.

Niles City

Across the Trinity River and directly north of Ft. Worth's business district was Niles City, named for Louville Niles, director of the Ft. Worth Stockyards Company. With the stockyards and packing plants serving as the economic base, Niles City was incorporated in 1911 as a separate entity to avoid Fort Worth tax assessments.

 

H3 Ranch History