Eleanor Alexander Stribling, a business woman and club woman who devoted her fortunes and energy to the building of San Antonio, daughter of David Clendenning (or Clendenin) and Judith Wroe (Briggs) Alexander, was born at Pekin, Tazewell County, Illinois, on September 23, 1836. Judith Alexander died when Eleanor was quite young, and she assumed responsibility for helping with family needs and caring for her brothers. In 1852 the family moved to Texas. They first lived in Seguin but soon relocated to San Antonio, where her father was a successful merchant, alderman, and associate of John H. Kampmann, a prominent businessman and master builder. In the early 1850s, D. C. Alexander and Kampmann purchased at the city’s public land sales an extensive tract of land known as the Laurel Hill property on high ground overlooking the city.
Eleanor Alexander married Judge Thomas Haile Stribling in 1855. Two daughters and a son were the offspring of their union. When Eleanor’s father died in 1859, she and her two brothers inherited his extensive land holdings. She eventually purchased her brothers’ interest in the property and by the time her husband died in 1873, Eleanor Stribling was not only one of San Antonio’s wealthiest residents but a respected business woman as well.
The Striblings were close friends of banker and philanthropist George W. Brackenridge who organized the San Antonio National Bank in 1866. Judge Stribling, one of the founding members, served as director and vice president of the bank until his death. His widow, Eleanor, succeeded him as director and became among the first women in the United States to hold such a position. Brackenridge, who served as administrator of Thomas Stribling’s estate, assisted Eleanor, the widow of his friend and Masonic brother, in managing her business affairs and continued to do so for forty years. This was especially evident in the sale and development of the Stribling land holdings in increments which resulted in subdivisions of diverse economic and architectural character which today define the physical appearance of the Monte Vista Historic District. Brackenridge, a strong advocate for women’s rights, defied tradition by appointing his sister, also named Eleanor, a bank director in 1878.
In 1892 Mrs. Stribling became a founding member of San Antonio Loan and Trust where she served as vice president until 1909; she was also a director of the San Antonio Water Works Company, both Brackenridge enterprises. She gave her financial support to the construction of the first railroad serving San Antonio as well as its first summer school program. She was extremely active in the woman suffrage movement and was a member of the Equal Franchise Society. She advocated the establishment of women’s clubs and often offered her home on Pecan Street as a meeting place. Stribling was a charter member of the San Antonio History Club and the Woman’s Club of San Antonio, which held special programs such as a sewing school and cooking school. Accordingly, she played a key role as advocate in the introduction of industrial training for girls in public schools. She was also a member of the first women’s book club in the city.
Eleanor Alexander Stribling died on July 27, 1913, and is buried in City Cemetery No. 1 in San Antonio. A feature in August 10, 1913, issue of the San Antonio Express heralded her as a “remarkable business woman” and “one of the most valued members of the community.”