Amon Carter biography

Amon G. Carter was born December 11, 1879 in Crafton, Texas, to Josephine and William Henry Carter. The family struggled financially, and at age eleven Carter left school to pursue odd jobs. He famously sold chicken sandwiches at a train depot in Bowie, Texas and went on to other opportunities in Oklahoma and California. He moved to Fort Worth in 1905 and became the advertising manager of the Fort Worth Star newspaper the next year. The Star struggled financially and was in danger of folding, when Carter had a bold idea. With the backing of Colonel Paul Waples, he bought the newspaper in 1908 and merged it with its chief competitor, the Fort Worth Telegram. Carter became publisher and president of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1923, and two years later purchased another rival paper, the Record, published by William Randolph Hearst.

Carter became a leader in broadcast media. He founded Fort Worth’s first radio station, WBAP, in 1922, which became the first television station in the Southwest in 1948. Carter was a dedicated booster of Fort Worth and served as president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. When oil was discovered in North Texas in the 1920s, he made a fortune and fostered the growth of the industry by encouraging oilmen to set up shop in Fort Worth. He also served as an early director of the American Petroleum Institute.

One of Carter’s special interests was aviation. In 1911, he headed a committee that brought the first airplane to the Fort Worth area. By 1928, he was a director and part owner of American Airways, which later became American Airlines. Before World War II he helped bring aviation manufacturing company Convair, which later became General Dynamics, to Fort Worth. In 1952, he convinced Bell Aircraft Corporation to build a plant in nearby Hurst.

Carter was also known for his large-scale philanthropy, which was fueled by wealth from the oil business. In 1945, the Amon G. Carter Foundation was established to support cultural and educational purposes.

Carter was married to Zetta Thomas and they had a daughter, Bertice, before divorcing. He later married Nenetta Burton, with whom he had Amon Jr. and Ruth. They divorced in 1941. Carter married Minnie Meacham Smith in 1948. He died on June 23, 1955, in Fort Worth.