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Randolph B. Campbell and Brett J. Derbes
Louis J. Wortham
Louis J. Wortham. Courtesy of the Portal to Texas History. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

WORTHAM, LOUIS J. (1859–1927). Louis J. Wortham, legislator and journalist, was born in November March 27, 1859, in Sulphur Springs, Texas, the son of William Amos and Elizabeth Ashcroft Wortham. He followed his father, who edited the Sulphur Springs Gazette, into the newspaper business and as he came of age worked on various Texas journals. Wortham married Faye Fruzanna Becton in 1881; they were parents of two children, William Becton Wortham and Mary Wortham. During the 1880s he became a colonel of the River Guards on the Rio Grande that cooperated with the Texas Rangers. Wortham served as Senator Coke’s private secretary in Washington D.C., as well as a federal inspector for the revenue service stationed at Mobile, Laredo, and San Antonio. He was a correspondent for New York newspapers in Washington D. C. and Mexico City, as well as chief editorial writer of the Houston Post. For a time around the turn of the century, he lived in Austin and edited Current Issue, a weekly journal of comment in that city.

Soon after 1900, Wortham moved to Ft. Worth and with Amon G. Carter, Sr. became one of the founders in 1906 of a newspaper that evolved by 1909 into the Fort Worth Star-TelegramIn 1902 he served as general manager of the Texas exhibits at the World’s Fair in St. Louis. From 1909 to 1915, he served four terms in the Texas Legislature as a Representative from Tarrant County. His legislative efforts concentrated on financial matters, and he chaired the House Appropriations Committee for one term. In 1921 the Board of Regents of the University of Texas at Austin named Wortham to the standing committees on finance, land, and legislation, as well as the College of Mines. After the death of his first wife in 1922, he married Ollie Wilson. He was a member of the Elks and the Eagles, as well as the River Crest Country Club, Saddle and Sirloin Club, Ad Men’s Club, and the Chamber of Commerce in Fort Worth. By 1923, Wortham held the position of Chairman of the Board of Director of the Wortham-Carter Publishing Company in Fort Worth.  The company regularly published Fort Worth city directories as well as the Star-Telegram. Wortham ended his tenure as editor in 1923 and wrote a five-volume History of Texas from Wilderness to Commonwealth that was published in 1924 and reprinted in 2018.

Grave of Louis J. Wortham
Grave of Louis J. Wortham. Courtesy of Debbie Gibbons. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

At the end of his career, Wortham made his home in Greenville, Texas, where he died on September 10, 1927. He was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Fort Worth.


Austin American-Statesman, January 6, 1924. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 11, 1927. Galveston Daily News, May 25, 1921. Houston Post, January 15, 1902. Jan Jones, Billy Rose Presents—Casa Mañana (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1999). Edward H. Phillips, “Texas and the World Fairs, 1851-1935,” East Texas Historical Journal 23 (Issue 2, 1985). Texas Legislative Council, Members of the Texas Legislature, 1846–1980 (Austin, 1980).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Randolph B. Campbell and Brett J. Derbes, "WORTHAM, LOUIS J.," accessed August 11, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwo29.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on August 9, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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