Charles Louis Brachfield, lawyer and jurist, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on January 10, 1871, the oldest son of Benjamin and Yetta (Baruch) Brachfield. In 1877 the family moved to Texas and settled in Henderson, where Benjamin Brachfield worked as a merchant. Charles attended Henderson College and subsequently clerked in the law office of Judge W. H. Wood in Waco. He was admitted to the bar in 1890 at the age of nineteen and set up a law practice in Henderson. He was elected county judge in 1897 and reelected in 1898 and 1902. He served in the Texas Senate for eight years, from January 1903 through September 1910, and was appointed District Court judge by Governor W. P. Hobby in 1918; he held this post until 1928. In 1926 Brachfield ran for attorney general, thus becoming the first Jew to seek statewide office. He lost the election, in part because of his strong prohibition views and the large slate of candidates, but came within 3,600 votes of forcing a runoff–a remarkable feat in view of the power and influence of the Ku Klux Klan at the time. Brachfield never married. He was active in the Masons and Odd Fellows and was a director of the First National Bank of Henderson. His law practice, which he continued until his death, included independent oil producers, Gulf Oil, and the Methodist church in Old London, Texas. He was widely respected in the community. After he died on June 6, 1947, a rabbi and a Methodist minister jointly conducted services.
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Natalie Ornish, Pioneer Jewish Texans (Dallas: Texas Heritage, 1989). Texas Jewish Historical Society Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Ruthe Winegarten and Cathy Schechter, Deep in the Heart: The Lives and Legends of Texas Jews (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Brachfield, Charles Louis,”
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