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Wooldridge, Alexander Penn (1847–1930)

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl Biography Entry

Alexander Penn Wooldridge, attorney, bank president, and mayor of Austin, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 13, 1847, the son of Absalom Davis and Julia Webber (Stone) Wooldridge. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1868 and accepted a position as professor of physical science at Bethel College in Russellville, Kentucky. In 1872 Wooldridge moved to Austin, Texas, and studied law at the firm of Terrell and Walker. He was admitted to the Fifth Circuit Court of the United States as an attorney later that year and helped establish a new firm: Fulmore, Wallace, and Wooldridge, Attorneys at Law and Land Agents. Wooldridge returned briefly to Russellville to marry Ellen Waggener, sister of Leslie Waggener, on September 18, 1874; they became the parents of seven children. In Austin Wooldridge quickly became involved in civic affairs. As president of the city's first public school board in 1880, he helped to organize the public school system. In 1881 he served as chairman of the committee on location of the University of Texas for the city of Austin and was a leader in the campaign to have Austin named as the site. He served as secretary of the University of Texas Board of Regents from August 1882 to September 1894. Wooldridge became president of the City National Bank in 1885. He was also president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce from 1888 to 1890. In 1902 he became president of the board of regents of the College of Industrial Arts (see TEXAS WOMAN'S UNIVERSITY). Wooldridge went into semiretirement in 1903, following the sudden death of his wife from typhoid fever. He refused another term as regent of the College of Industrial Arts and was relieved of the responsibilities of his bank when it merged with Austin National Bank in 1905. His interest in civic affairs remained strong, however, and in 1909 Wooldridge was elected mayor of Austin. As mayor he championed many improvements, such as the paving and lighting of city streets, additions to the police and fire departments, and several sanitation projects. Wooldridge married Mrs. Nellie Wylie Holden on July 9, 1917, and retired from public office in 1919. He was the recipient of Austin's first Most Worthy Citizen award in 1924, and Wooldridge Park and Wooldridge Elementary School were named in his honor. He died in Austin on September 8, 1930, and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery.

Austin American, September 9, 10, 11, 1930. Ruth Ann Overbeck, Alexander Penn Wooldridge (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1963). Vertical Files, Austin History Center. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Education
  • School Trustees and Regents

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

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “Wooldridge, Alexander Penn,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 14, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 4, 2019