Eggleston Dick Townes was born on June 15, 1817, in Amelia County, Virginia, to John Leigh and Polly Segar (Eggleston) Townes. In 1833 he was accepted to and attended the University of Alabama and graduated A.B. in 1835. He went on to study law at the University of Alabama and was admitted to the state bar at Tuscumbia, Alabama. On February 11, 1845, he married Martha Cousins Betts in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1850 Townes was a successful attorney in Franklin County, Alabama, with a real estate value of $12,000. He and Martha had four daughters—Julia Amanda, age four; twins Virginia Chambers and Pattie Segar, age two; and Mary Bolling, age one. In 1851 he was elected chancellor of the Northern Chancery Division of Alabama and held that position until his resignation in 1852.
By 1856 Townes and his family lived in Manor, Texas, in Travis County. He continued to practice law, and the family remained in Travis County through the remainder of his life. While residing there, the Townes family had four more children—John Charles, Martha Chambers, Henry Eggleston, and Eggleston Dick, Jr. By 1860 Townes was one of the wealthiest men in Travis County and listed his profession as planter in that year’s census. He had a real estate value of $20,000 and personal estate value of $30,000. He owned a slave plantation with an overseer named William Sherling of Arkansas and owned fifty slaves ranging in age from six to sixty.
When the Civil War began E.D. Townes was a forty-three-year-old lawyer with a wife and children who stayed at home. Later in the war he volunteered for service and was given the rank of major serving in the Fourth Texas State Cavalry Battalion This regiment was formed in the late fall of 1863 and served in Northern Texas until the spring of 1864 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Tait. The regiment never engaged in combat and spent most of its six-month term of service stationed at Fort Belknap in West Texas along the Brazos River and just south of the Red River. Its present-day location is eleven miles west of Graham, Texas, in Young County. On December 24, 1863, Townes left his regiment due to an undisclosed illness and returned to his family in Manor, Texas. He was unable to recover from that illness and died on July 31, 1864, at his home.