Mayfield, Earle Bradford (1881–1964)

By: Frank H. Smyrl

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: July 14, 2019

Earle Mayfield, United States senator, was born at Overton, Texas, on April 12, 1881, to John Blythe and Mary (D'Guerin) Mayfield. After completing high school at Timpson he received a diploma from Tyler Business College and graduated from Southwestern University (1900). He attended the law school of the University of Texas in 1900–01. In 1907 he began to practice law in Meridian. He served in the Texas Senate from 1907 to 1913 and was a member of the state Railroad Commission from 1913 to 1923.

Mayfield ran as one of six candidates for the Democratic nomination for United States senator in 1922 against the elderly Charles A. Culberson's bid for a sixth term. With the endorsement of Senator Morris Sheppard, he obtained the nomination in a bitter runoff campaign against former governor James E. Ferguson, in which Ferguson was billed as the antiprohibitionist candidate and Mayfield, who supported the Volstead Act, as the Ku Klux Klan candidate. Mayfield avoided the Klan issue and spoke out against federal control of freight rates. In the general election he was opposed by an Independent Democratic-Republican fusion candidate, George E. B. Peddy, whom he defeated by a vote of two to one. Peddy demanded an investigation of the election by the United States Senate, complaining that his name was not printed on the ballot, that Mayfield missed the filing dates, spent too much money in his campaign, and was supported by the Ku Klux Klan. After investigating for two years, the Senate found in favor of Mayfield and permitted him to take his seat. He sought renomination in 1928 and led a field of six candidates in the first Democratic primary, but in the runoff he was defeated by Congressman Thomas Terry Connally. In the 1930 Democratic primary for governor he ran seventh in a field of eleven.

Mayfield married Ora Lumpkin on June 10, 1902, and they had three sons. After leaving the Senate he lived in Tyler, where he practiced law and was president of the Mayfield Wholesale Grocery Company until his retirement in 1952. He was granted an honorary doctor of humane letters degree by John Brown University of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. He died on June 23, 1964, and was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, Tyler.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1961. Norman D. Brown, Hood, Bonnet, and Little Brown Jug: Texas Politics, 1921–1928 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1984). Seth Shepard McKay, Texas Politics, 1906–1944 (Lubbock: Texas Tech Press, 1952).

Time Periods:

  • Texas in the 1920s

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

Frank H. Smyrl, “Mayfield, Earle Bradford,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed November 28, 2021,

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July 14, 2019