Alfred Horatio Belo, newspaper publisher and Confederate army officer, was born at Salem, North Carolina, on May 27, 1839, the son of Edwin Belo. He grew up in a devout Moravian community and attended Bingham School. Later he graduated from the University of North Carolina. With North Carolina's secession, Belo raised and was commissioned captain of a company from Forsythe County assigned to the Fifty-sixth North Carolina Infantry. During the Civil War he served in every major engagement of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia from Manassas to Appomattox. For his conduct at the first battle of Manassas (Bull Run) he was promoted to major. In 1862 he further endeared himself to his regiment by fighting a duel against an officer of another regiment. Belo resented an aspersion against the North Carolinians' courage and challenged the calumniator to an exchange of fire with Mississippi rifles. Neither principal was injured in the exchange. Largely as a result of this affair of honor, Belo was elected lieutenant colonel and later colonel of his regiment. He was severely wounded at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, and his left arm was shattered at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, on June 3, 1864.
In 1865 Belo rode horseback to Texas and joined the staff of the Galveston News just before it was returned from Houston to Galveston, and presently he acquired a partnership with Willard Richardson, its publisher. With this partnership the paper began a great expansion of its facilities. In that year the Galveston Daily News was launched as an outgrowth of the daily war extras that the historic Weekly News had issued during the closing days of the war. The Texas Almanac, which had been suspended during the war, was revived in 1867. On June 30, 1868, Belo married Nettie Ennis, daughter of Cornelius Ennis. They had two children, one of whom, Alfred Horatio Belo, Jr., succeeded his father to the presidency of the News. After Richardson's death in 1875, Belo became principal owner of the newspaper and continued in that capacity until his death.
On October 1, 1885, Belo established the Dallas Morning News. He was with the News for thirty-six years and directed the policy of its publication for more than a quarter of a century. He became widely known as a liberal in the development of Texas and instituted many of the policies that continued to control the Dallas News well into the mid-twentieth century. His two newspapers became a standard pattern for other newspapers, notably the New York Times. Both the Galveston and Dallas papers passed into other hands, but the Dallas News perpetuated his name under its corporate designation of A. H. Belo Corporation. Alfred H. Belo died at Asheville, North Carolina, on April 19, 1901, and was buried near his boyhood home at Salem. Upon hearing of Belo's death, President Grover Cleveland said, "I feel it to be a personal loss, as he was a friend to whom I was warmly attached, as a chivalrous, high-minded man, and an exceptionally able, fearless and conscientious journalist. His death is a loss to the entire country."