SLEDGE, ALONZO L.
SLEDGE, ALONZO L. (1854–1918). Alonzo (Andrew) L. Sledge, African-American legislator and Baptist preacher, son of Henderson and Adelaide Sledge, was born on August 15, 1854, in Chappell Hill, Washington County, Texas. Although born into slavery, Sledge soon excelled impressively in a variety of pursuits. He grew up in Chappell Hill and by 1870 was attending school in Washington County while living with his parents and his sister Malinda. Less than a decade later in 1878, while still only in his mid-twenties, Sledge won election to the Sixteenth Texas Legislature and served as the representative for Washington and Burleson counties.
He and fellow African-American delegate, Bedford G. Guy, had utilized the Greenback Party’s split of the white vote to win election as Republican candidates. Sledge served in the legislature from January 14, 1879, until January 11, 1881, and sat on the Education Committee. During his time in office, Sledge was reportedly very committed to the advancement of African Americans within his district. Both Sledge and Guy were honored as African-American pioneers by the Eighty-first Texas Legislature in 2009.
Aside from his brief tenure in the state legislature, Sledge was a preacher by trade. He plied his craft all around Central Texas and took a job as a pastor in Caldwell, Texas, for almost eighteen years, as well as in Temple, Texas, for a two-year stint. The majority of Sledge’s preaching career, however, was spent in his hometown of Chappell Hill, where he served for nearly twenty-five years, performing church services as well as wedding ceremonies. Sledge was also a Baptist church organizer and leader at the state and national level, serving as the president of the state Baptist Convention as well as a delegate to the National Baptist Convention.
In addition to his professional careers, Sledge enjoyed a full family life. By 1880, which was the midpoint of Sledge’s two-year legislative career, Louisa Sledge, Alonzo’s first wife, had given birth to three daughters—Julia, Harriett, and Minnie—who were listed in the 1880 census as ages six, four, and two, respectively. By 1900 Alonzo and Louisa had been married for twenty-six years, and their two surviving daughters, twenty-six-year-old Julia and twenty-four-year-old Harriet, were both employed as teachers, perhaps reflecting their father’s concern for education while serving on the House Education Committee.
It is not known whether Louisa died or if the couple divorced, but by 1910 Sledge had been married to his second wife, Annie, for a year. The couple did not have any children of their own. Alonzo L. Sledge died on October 14, 1918, in Washington County.
J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants (Dallas: Mathis, 1935; 2d ed., Austin: Jenkins, 1970). House Concurrent Resolution No. 81 (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth149237/m1/1/), accessed August 23, 2012. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Alonzo Sledge (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberdisplay.cfm?memberID=4359), accessed May 3, 2012. Lawrence D. Rice, The Negro in Texas, 1874–1900 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Daniel J. Nabors, "SLEDGE, ALONZO L.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsl06), accessed May 19, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.