Alford, James Perry (1820–1904)


By: Hayden C. Harris

Type: Biography

Published: May 18, 2022

Updated: May 18, 2022


James Perry Alford, Confederate soldier, farmer, and Texas state legislator, son of Wiley Pace Alford and Sophia Valentine (Drake) Alford, was born in Wilson County, Tennessee, on November 18, 1820. His parents were born and married in North Carolina. The couple had at least eleven children together.

Alford migrated to Texas in his early adulthood. On May 23, 1844, he married Minerva Cecelia Maulding in Bowie County, Texas. They had twelve children together, nine of which survived to adulthood—six daughters and three sons. Alford listed his occupation as farmer in the 1850 census. In that same year, he was recorded as owning three slaves. In 1858 the couple moved to Fort Worth.

Alford was an ardent defender of slavery. On July 18, 1860, he chaired a county meeting where members adopted a resolution creating a county-wide anti-abolitionist vigilante committee and endorsed the actions of those who had hanged William H. Crawford, a suspected abolitionist whose body was discovered the previous day (see LYNCHING). On June 11, 1861, at the age of forty, he enlisted as a private in the Tarrant County Rifles, a mounted company of the Texas State Troops, organized for frontier defense after the outbreak of the Civil War. On May 12, 1862, in Limestone County, he enlisted in the Confederate Army and joined the Twentieth Texas Cavalry as a junior second lieutenant. The regiment was organized in Hill County under Col. Thomas Coke Bass, saw battle in Arkansas, and was transferred to Indian Territory in January 1863. However Alford resigned from Confederate service on February 14, 1863, after receiving a medical discharge due to chronic rheumatism that affected his shoulders, alongside other ailments. At his resignation, Alford held the rank of first lieutenant.

Prior to his official resignation, he arrived in Austin to fill the state House seat recently vacated by Richard Montgomery Gano, who resigned from the legislature to enter Confederate service. Alford represented Tarrant County (District 43) in the First Called Session for the Ninth Texas Legislature. Alford presented his credentials and was sworn in on February 3, 1863. During his brief tenure, he served on the Committee on Counties and County Boundaries and the Committee on Public Debt. On March 4 the speaker appointed Alford and four others to a free conference committee after the House refused to concur with the Senate’s amendment on a bill “to provide for the defense of the frontier.” During his time in the legislature, Alford introduced one bill, which aimed to prevent the depletion of the livestock of individuals in the Confederate service due to abuse of the existing estray laws in their absence. The bill was referred to the Committee on Stock and Stockraising, which instead recommended a bill suspending estray laws for the duration of the war. This alternate bill passed.

Alford served until the House adjourned on March 7. After his time in the legislature, he returned to Fort Worth, where he worked as a cattle broker and farmer according to 1866 tax records and the 1870 census, respectively. By the 1880s he had several real estate holdings in and around Fort Worth. Alford and his family remained in Tarrant County until the late 1880s when they moved to Cisco in Eastland County. In 1889 he was elected as an officer representing Eastland County in the Texas Pioneers Association. He was also a member of the Tarrant County Old Settlers’ Association. The family lived in Cisco in 1900 but moved back to Tarrant County soon thereafter. They lived in the community of Glenwood, which was just east of and later annexed by Fort Worth. In February 1904 Alford applied for membership to the Robert E. Lee Camp Number 158 of the United Confederate Veterans in Fort Worth and was admitted during the organization’s March meeting. The Fort Worth Record and Register credited Alford as “the father of the Confederate camp idea.”

On July 1, 1904, at the age of eighty-three, James P. Alford died at his home in Glenwood. His cause of death was listed on his death certificate as “organic heart trouble,” although his obituary stated that he died “as the result of a severe case of grip” (probably influenza), which he contracted the previous winter. At the time of his wife Minerva’s death the following February, the Alford estate was valued at $5,000. His funeral was held at the First Methodist Church, and pallbearers included Samuel Evans and Joseph C. Terrell. Alford was buried at Fort Worth’s oldest public cemetery, which was later named Pioneer’s Rest Cemetery.

Dallas Morning News, February 22, 1905. Fort Worth Daily Gazette, July 22, 1889. Fort Worth Record and Register, February 29, 1904. Fort Worth Telegram, March 14, 1904; July 2, 1904; February 15, 1905. “James Perry Alford,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/18921595/james-perry-alford), accessed May 5, 2022. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: James P. Alford (https://lrl.texas.gov/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=4888), accessed May 5, 2022. Orville J. Victor, ed., Incidents and Anecdotes of the War: Together with Life Sketches of Eminent Leaders, and Narratives of the Most Memorable Battles for the Union (New York: J. D. Torrey, 1866).

Categories:
  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Military
  • Confederate Military
  • Regimental and Staff Officers
  • Soldiers
  • Politics and Government
  • Government Officials
  • House
  • State Legislators
  • Ninth Legislature (1861-1863)
Time Periods:
  • Antebellum Texas
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
Places:
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Fort Worth

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Hayden C. Harris, “Alford, James Perry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 13, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/alford-james-perry.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 18, 2022
May 18, 2022

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: