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SWEETON, CLYDE A. (1876–1935). Clyde A. Sweeton, attorney, was born in Rhea County, Tennessee, on December 7, 1876, the son of J. N. and Cordelia (Locke) Sweeton; his father was a Methodist minister. The family moved to Texas when Sweeton was three and lived in Northeast Texas. Sweeton attended Southwestern University, graduated with a B.S. degree in 1898, and subsequently studied law with Judge V. M. Clark. He was admitted to the bar in 1899. From then until 1913, he practiced law in Sulphur Springs. He was elected county attorney of Hopkins County and district attorney of the Eighth Judicial District of Texas. Attorney General Ben F. Looney appointed him assistant attorney general, a post he held from 1913 to 1919. In 1919 he returned to full-time private practice in Greenville. Sweeton specialized in litigation, and in 1924 James Anderson Elkins hired him as a partner for the Houston firm of Vinson, Elkins, Sweeton, and Weems. For the next eleven years Sweeton was the principal trial attorney of one of Houston's largest law firms. Elkins placed Sweeton in charge of litigation for Pure Oil Company's Texas interests, which included substantial litigation in the Mexia and Van oilfields. Although he did not win all his cases, his success aided the expansion of the firm. Substantial fees from Sweeton's practice supplied critical capital to the Guaranty Trust Company, later First City Bancorporation, which had been founded by Elkins. In turn, these funds brought additional revenue into circulation in the Houston economy during the 1920s and early part of the Great Depression. Judge James A. Elkins regarded Sweeton as the greatest trial lawyer in the history of the largest law firm in Texas, Vinson and Elkins. Sweeton was a Methodist. He was also a Lion, a Mason, a Knight Templar, and a Knight of Pythias, as well as member of the Houston Club. He was married twice, first in 1899 to Rowena Eastman, by whom he had one daughter, and second in 1932 to Gene Smith Cole. Sweeton died on August 22, 1935, in Asheville, North Carolina.


Marcellus E. Foster and Alfred Jones, eds., South and Southeast Texas (n.p.: Jas. O. Jones, 1928). W. Ernest Thompson, "A Texas Portrait: Clyde A. Sweeton," Texas Bar Journal 29 (March 22, 1966). Vinson and Elkins Papers, Vinson and Elkins, Houston.

Irvin M. May, Jr.


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

Irvin M. May, Jr., "SWEETON, CLYDE A.," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.