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Egbert Benson Alford
1859 AL - 1933 TX
A HISTORY OF TEXAS AND TEXANS, Vol III
By Frank W. Johnson
The American Historical Society
Chicago & New York, 1914
Egbert B. Alford--As a business man and citizen Mr. Alford is easily foremost in the town
of Henderson, where he is president of the Mayfield-Alford Company, the largest mercantile
house in the town, and is mayor of the civil corporation. Mr. Alford has been a resident
of Texas since 1874, and in forty years has progressed from the status of a clerk to a
controlling influence in the affairs of a large and prosperous community.
Mr. Alford came to Texas from Chambers county, Alabama, where he was born at Lafayette on April 14, 1859. His family record is one of interest. His father, John Rogers Alford, was a positive force in the social, political and business life of Chambers county, which he served as an official and which he represented in the state legislature. He was born at Walton, Georgia, in 1810, had only a fair amount of education, and succeeded largely by sheer force of his ability and industry. The grandfather was Kinchen B. Alford, a slave holder who lived and died in Georgia, leaving four children. James W., the first of these children died in Georgia; Mary married Dr. Beall; Feraby married Dr. Hudson and John R. John R. Alford began life as a grocery clerk at Walton, Georgia. In 1836 he moved to Alabama, soon after his marriage and in that state his time was largely taken up with public affairs. He was a government commissioner in the removal of the Indians from his section of Alabama to Florida. His early political support was given to the Whig party, but after the war he was a loyal Democrat. His advanced age put him in the home guard near the close of the war, and he was stationed a short while at West Point, Georgia. In religion he was a Baptist. All his farming operations were carried on with slave labor, and he thus suffered great financial misfortune when the negroes were freed. John R. Alford married Amelia Beall, a daughter of Thaddeus Beall, who went to Alabama from Georgia, about the same time as his son-in-law did. Mrs, Alford died in Henderson, Texas in 1894, and her children are briefly named as follows: Josephine married Major Terrell, and died in Rusk county; Lenora married Charles Taliaferro and lives in Talapoosa, Georgia; Ausustus O. lives at Overton, Texas; Achsa married Richard Taliaferro of Georgia; Emma married Burton Dabb, and died at Rome, Georgia; Eliza married George Gammell, and lives in Lafayette, Alabama; John R. died at Overton, Texas in 1882; James lives at Overton; Kinchen B. has his home at Houston, Texas; Egbert B, lives at Henderson, Tex.; and George W. is a resident of Rome, Georgia.
Egbert B. Alford arrived in Texas in December, 1874. He was then about sixteen years of age. His first experience here was as a clerk in a store at Overton. Soon afterwards he moved to Henderson, and while not busy with the work of earning a living attended public schools, and thus finished his education. For two years he was a clerk in Henderson, and then accepted a place with the wholesale dry goods house of Yale & Bolling at New Orleans, as a traveling salesman. After a few months he went into a similar capacity for the Rice-Stix Dry Goods Company of St. Louis, covering the territory of northeast and east Texas from 1881 for a year or so. On leaving that firm he went to Galveston to become credit man for P. J. Willis & Brother, over their east Texas territory. In 1884, having the experience and the enterprise necessary to start on his own account, Mr. Alford established himself in business at Overton, associated with his brother Kinchen B. Their operations continued there with considerable success until 1891. Since then Mr. Alford has operated with his headquarters and home at Henderson. In this place he bought up several stocks of goods from E. Barthold and from James Claiborne, and succeeded to the business of formerly carried on by the Alliance Store. These consolidated enterprises were conducted by him under his own name until 1904 when he formed a partnership with J. R. Iron. The firm of Alford & Irion prospered for one year, when John B. Mayfield bought an interest and a stock company was then formed, conducted since under the name of the Mayfield-Alford Company. Mr Alford is president of this organization, his sons J. R. is secretary, and his daughter Bessie L. is treasurer. The members of his own family have acquired all of the stock, the business being incorporated with a capital of forty thousand dollars.
Besides this successful record as a merchant, Mr. Alford is president of the Guaranty Fund State Bank and Trust Company of Henderson, and is president of the Overton Compress Company. He was for many years engaged in the manufacture of lumber in Rusk county. He organized the Henderson Light & Planing Mill Company, and did more than any other individual to promote the building of a light plant and the operation of a planing mill here. For many years Mr. Alford has owned Rusk County, Land, and has added many acres to the cultivated domain. His theme has been the adoption of "book methods" in farming. Scientific and intensive agriculture, have been urged by him upon his tenants and his customers with apparently good results, through his individual efforts, and by impromptu talks to small groups in his place of business. His personal observation where scientific methods have been pursued has made an enthusiastic convert to the idea of intensive farming, and some of his own acres have responded under the touch of that magic wand. His own farm supports a score of families who add yearly to the wealth of Rusk County.
When Henderson resumed its corporate existence in 1912, Mr. Alford was elected mayor. He has aided in the maintenance and improvement of educational matters here for many years as a trustee of the public schools. In many other ways he has identified himself with local civic and political affairs, has acted as chairman of important local meetings and conventions, and is a man who never neglects his civic responsibilities. In 1892, he was a Hogg delegate to the historic Houston convention as a partisan of Texas's famous reform governor. Mr. Alford is affiliated with the Masonic Lodge and the Knights of Pythias Order, and his church is the Methodist.
In November, 1880, Mr. Alford was united in marriage with Miss Alice Neal. Her father was Dr. Neal. Mrs Alford died in 1881, without surviving children. In December, 1884, Mr. Alford married Miss Ella Overton. Her father was Dr. Jess Overton, and the family name has a memorial in the present Texas village of that designation. The Overtons came from Tennessee, where the name is likewise preserved in geographic nomenclature, and Dr. Overton was born in that state and came to Texas before the war. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Alford are: John R., Josie B., wife of J. J. Rayford of Henderson; Bessie L., a student in the Denton State Normal; Jessie B.; E. B. Jr. and Richard Overton. Mr. Alford stands six feet one inch high, weighs about two hundred and twenty pounds, and the force of his character and his business energy are in close harmony with his physical vigor.