Claude V. Birkhead, Texas jurist and soldier, was born on May 27, 1880, in Phoenix, Oregon. His family moved to Texas during his youth, and he attended Waco public schools and Fort Worth University. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1899 and moved to San Antonio. In 1910 he was appointed to the bench of the Seventy-third District Court; after his election to that post in 1912, he resigned to resume law practice. He was recognized as a leader of the bar of Southwest Texas.
He enlisted in 1899 as a private in Company K, First Texas Infantry, and his long military record ended only with his death. He was a colonel of field artillery in the Texas National Guard at the outbreak of World War I. He entered federal service as a colonel of the Thirty-first Field Artillery and served in the American Expeditionary Force in France until the end of the war. He stayed in the Texas National Guard after the war and received numerous promotions. In 1923 he was brigadier general of field artillery of the Thirty-sixth Division. In 1936 he was promoted to major general and made commanding general of the division, which was federalized on November 25, 1940. In September 1941 Birkhead was placed in command of the internal security force of the Third Corps area, with headquarters at Baltimore. He was placed on the retired list, effective May 27, 1948. On December 6, 1947, he was appointed major general of the Texas State Guard Reserve Corps and assigned to be its commanding general. On August 2, 1948, he was promoted to lieutenant general. With an indefatigable interest in the welfare of veterans, he served as first department commander of Texas of the American Legion. He was also president of the National Guard Association of the United States. He was on the board of directors of Peacock Military Academy for many years, and one of its dormitories was named in his honor. Birkhead died on November 19, 1950, in San Antonio.