The Silver Bowl of Civility

Several blocks south of the Southside Church building are Daggett Middle School, Daggett Park, Daggett Montessori and E.M. Daggett Elementary.

Captain Ephraim Merrill Daggett was a hero of the Mexican War of the 1840s and moved with his two brothers to the settlement of Fort Worth in 1854. He became a city leader and some scholars call him “the father of Fort Worth.” He opened our town’s first hotel and would later donate land when the Texas and Pacific Railroad came westward. His advocacy for the development and growth of Fort Worth was unparalleled.

Captain Daggett was a giant of a man in body and in spirit. The native
Americans who came to trade in the settlement said of him that he was “too big for a man, not big enough for a horse.”

He had become a national hero during the Mexican War (under the command of General William Worth for whom our town was named) when he pursued Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista. Santa Anna escaped but Captain Daggett seized the General’s feathered hat, gold-braided coat, cane, and his silver wash bowl made of Mexican silver dollars.

In 1857 U.S. Senate Sam Houston visited Fort Worth and stayed in the home of E.M. Daggett. Houston was campaigning for Governor of Texas. The two old soldiers were not political allies. Daggett campaigned for Houston’s
opponent. Houston would lose the election.

On the evening of the heated candidates’ debate in Birdville, Houston
returned to the Daggett home dispirited and in pain. Houston was tormented by chronic pain from an open leg wound that had never healed from the battle of San Jacinto.

In an act of affection, friendship, and admiration for the great hero of Texas – in a transcendent act of humility – Captain Daggett personally washed and dressed Houston’s wound using Santa Anna’s silver wash bowl.

In a fractured society – broken homes, mean-spirited political rhetoric, racial wariness, church civil wars – big men on their knees still reach for the silver bowl of civility and healing.

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