Obenchain, Alfred T. (1824–1862)

By: Aragorn Storm Miller and Jennifer Bridges

Type: Biography

Published: May 26, 2011

Alfred T. Obenchain, planter, state senator, and Confederate officer, was born on February 11, 1824, in Buchanan, Virginia, to Samuel and Martha (Toller) Obenchain. On May 15, 1847, Obenchain married his first wife, Susan Fluke, in Botetourt, Virginia. He and his second wife, Delphine R. Beckwith (1831–1906), were married in 1850 in Hancock County, Illinois. The couple had five children. Later, Obenchain settled with his family in Parker County, Texas, where he became a leading citizen. By 1860 he owned $8,500 in real estate and personal property, including a plantation consisting of 905 acres of land and six slaves. In October 1860 Obenchain became part owner of the Weatherford newspaper White Man, a publication that was hostile towards Indians. The paper remained in operation until its office was destroyed in December 1861. Earlier that year, Obenchain had represented Parker County at the Texas Secession Convention, and on February 1, 1861, was one of the signers of the Texas Secession Ordinance. From November 4, 1861, to January 14, 1862, Obenchain served as senator in the Ninth Texas Legislature for District 20, which represented Erath, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, and Tarrant counties.

On January 29, 1862, Obenchain was excused as a senator and appointed by Gov. Francis R. Lubbock as lieutenant colonel and second-in-command to Col. James M. Norris in the Texas Frontier Regiment. Norris soon tired of the strain of military command, however, and returned to his law practice in McLennan County. Lieutenant Colonel Obenchain took over the force at Fort Belknap and caused controversy due to his lack of understanding of the frontier and his strict discipline. Charles Goodnight, an officer under his command, described him as "tyrannical and arrogant." This unpopularity led to his murder by two of his own men at Hubbard Creek in Stephens County near Camp Breckenridge on August 16, 1862. He was buried in an unmarked grave on the frontier.

Evetts Haley, Charles Goodnight, Cowman and Plainsman (New York: Houghton Mifflin,1936). Henry Smythe, Historical Sketch of Parker County and Weatherford (St. Louis: Lavat, 1877; rpt., Waco: Morrison, 1973). Ralph A. Wooster, "An Analysis of the Membership of the Texas Secession Convention," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 62 (January 1959).


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Publishers and Executives

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

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

Aragorn Storm Miller and Jennifer Bridges, “Obenchain, Alfred T.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 28, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/obenchain-alfred-t.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 26, 2011

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: