By GLENDA HERBERT
Many members and friends of the Parker County Historical Commission are invited to attend the dedication of a historical marker for Mr. Fred Cotten on Saturday. June 21, at 10:30 a.m. in Oakland Cemetery in Weatherford at the family gravesite near the corner of Mill and Jameson streets.
Cotten was a leading citizen of Weatherford for many years (1894-1974) having owned and operated the family businesses, Cotten-Bratton Furniture and Funeral Home. More importantly, Cotten was noted as a philanthropist and historian. He wrote and published an essay on the log cabins of Parker and surrounding counties as well as a number of pamphlets on Weatherford and Parker County. He served as president of both the West Texas Historical Association and the Texas State Historical Association. He was also the first president of the Parker County Historical Commission.
After earning his law degree from The University of Texas in 1917, Cotton worked for the U.S. Department of Justice where he investigated the legal aspects of the German sinking of the Liner Lusitania. Subsequently, he became a noted swine farmer, receiving certificates of merit from the Hampshire Swine Registry of Peoria, Illinois. He then devoted his life to the management of his businesses and the study of history.
He was an ardent student of history and the managing editor of the Daily Texan from 1914-to 1915. Following the death of his father, his mother insisted that he study law and he received his law degree in 1917, at which time he accepted his offer of a job from the U.S. Department of Justice concerning the sinking of the Lusitania. On the following June 19, 1919, Cotten married Mary Virginia Akard, of Weatherford, and over the course of the next three years they were blessed with a son and a daughter. A month to the day of his daughter’s birth, his mother died on Dec. 22, l922, and he and his young family returned to Weatherford. Upon his father’s death, his mother had hired J.C. Massey to run the business, which had been incorporated in 1911 with D.C. Bratton, Alex Rawlings and J.W. Braselton, the other shareholders in the company (the business remained a corporation until 1976, when it became once more became a single family business). Following his mother’s death, Fred Cotten became president, but he left the management of the business to Mr. Massey. Massey retired in 1935, at which time Cotten became a licensed funeral director of the State of Texas, and he henceforth devoted his time to the funeral home, the furniture store, his swine farm and the study and recording of history.
Several city, county and state dignitaries have been invited: U.S. Congresswoman Kay Granger, State Rep. Phil King, Parker County Judge Mark Riley, Chairman of the Parker County Historical Commission Johnie Herbert and Dr. Kent Calder, executive director of the State Historical Association from the University of North Texas, as well as Cotten’s grandson, Rider Scott and his family.