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Fred Rouse, Victim Of Lynching In Fort Worth, Gets First Memorial 100 Years After His Death

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - The victim of the only recorded lynching of a black man in Fort Worth got his first memorial this weekend, exactly 100 years after his death.

"When I think about this happening in this community, in this space, it's just mind-blowing," said Fred Rouse III, the grandson of Fred Rouse.

Fred Rouse Lynching Memorial
Fred Rouse III, the grandson of the only Black man lynched in Fort Worth, stands in front of a memorial. (Credit: Rodger Mallison)

The site of one of the darkest chapters in the city's history is in an industrial area of Fort Worth at the intersection of NE 12th St. and Samuels Avenue, mostly unnoticed by passing cars.

It's where Fred Rouse was lynched.

The story is so painful, his own family couldn't bear to talk about it.

"I was 46 when I found out," said Rouse III. "Yeah, so for 46 years, I never knew anything about this."

Fred Rouse was a black butcher for Swift & Company in the Stockyards. As a strikebreaker, he crossed both union and racial lines. Leaving work one day, he was attacked, stabbed and left for dead by a group of strike agitators.

After police discovered Rouse was still alive, they brought him to the hospital. Five days later, a mob of angry white men barged in and kidnapped him.

They drove north to what had become known as the "Death Tree."

"Twenty minutes later, he was hanged from a hackberry tree and his body was riddled with bullets," Rouse III said. "100 years ago, just yesterday, blood soaked these grounds, and then for 100 years later to the day, to have his family – his blood relatives here – touching this ground again, it's like everything came full circle. It's bittersweet."

Rouse III is now working with the Tarrant County Coalition for Peace and Justice to bring awareness to what happened. They unveiled a historical marker at the lynching site on Saturday.

"It was being hidden from everybody, and I think by bringing this out, it really shows the true past of Fort Worth and all the things that happened," said Rouse III.

The group also broke ground for the memorial they hope to eventually build.

Rouse III says it's only by truly acknowledging the racism and violence that the healing can begin.

"A lot of people just want to hide the bad and only show the good, but I think this here, when you show the bad as well, you have a more complete community and a better community," he said.

A Fort Worth Heritage Trails Historical Marker will soon be placed at the former City & County Hospital, now the Maddux-Muse Center, as well. The marker documents the abduction of Mr. Rouse from this hospital on Dec. 11, 1921.

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