Alexander J. Seale biography

There have been exciting and interesting chapters in the life history of Alexander J. Seale, and his record also contains an account of untiring industry and perseverance in business affairs, but now he is living a retired life, enjoying in well earned ease the fruits of his former toil. He was born in Greene county, Alabama, November 4, 1838, his parents being Anthony and Peggy W. (Jenkins) Seale, whose marriage was celebrated in Alabama, although the father was born in Georgia, while the mother’s birth occurred in South Carolina. The paternal grandfather was also a native of Georgia and was of English descent. On leaving the Empire state of the south he removed to Greene county, Alabama, where he conducted a good plantation, owning a number of slaves who performed the active work of the farm. His children were as follows: Benton, Richard, Jerry, Jarva, William, Anthony, Mrs. Cynthia Ashley and Mrs. Sarah Jackson.

Anthony Seale, father of our subject, spent the days of his childhood and youth in the state of his nativity but was married in Alabama, after which he took up his abode in Mississippi. He wedded Peggy W. Jenkins, a daughter of Benjamin Jenkins, of Virginia, who on leaving the Old Dominion became a well known and influential planter of Mississippi, where he lived for many years. There he figured prominently in public life, serving as justice of the peace and in other positions of trust and responsibility. He held membership in the Missionary Baptist church and his genuine personal worth gained for him the esteem and friendship of many. His children were: James, Jackson, Richard and Peggy W., the last named becoming Mrs. Seale.

Following their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Seale took up their abode in Mississippi, where he purchased a plantation, on which he reared his family and continued to make his home until 1866, when he was called to his final rest. His farm was located near Tupelo, Mississippi, and he was a representative and extensive planter and slave owner of that locality. In his business affairs he prospered because of his capable management and untiring industry. He was opposed to the secession movement but was too old to take an active part on either side. His farm lay in the path of the contending armies and both the northern and southern troops foraged off his place. At the time of the battle of Tupelo there was scarcely anything left upon the plantation. Horses, hogs, cattle and chickens were all killed to feed the troops. The rail fences were burned and the work of devastation was carried on until the plantation was practically in ruins. Following the war his slaves were freed and his property destroyed, so that he was left a poor man. He had at one time enjoyed all the advantages and conveniences that wealth can secure and because of his old age he could not bear up under the strain, death coming to his relief in 1866. He was an intelligent, broad-minded man, who had been charitable to the needy, sympathetic with the afflicted, and his friends and neighbors knew him for one whose fidelity to principle was above question. In all of his business dealings he was straightforward and reliable, nor was he ever known to take advantage of the necessities of his fellow-men in any trade transaction. His political allegiance was given to the Democratic party and he was true to his professions as a member of the Missionary Baptist church. His wife survived him and alter the plantation was sold and she brought her family to Texas, joining her son, Alexander J., in this state. He then looked after the family interests and kept the younger members of the household together. Mrs. Seale spent her declining years with her son, passing away in Texas in the faith of the Missionary Baptist church, of which she had long been a devoted member. By her marriage she had become the mother of eight children: Alexander J., of this review; Mrs. Elizabeth Bardon; Peggy, the wife of J. Bird; Eliza, the wife of L. Bird; Mrs. Jane Young; Mrs. Martha Edwards; James, a farmer; and Jerry, a well-to-do stock-farmer of Hopkins county, Texas. All came with their mother to this state.

Alexander J. Seale was reared in Mississippi amid affluent surroundings and remained under the parental roof until twenty-one years of age, when his father established him in a mercantile business. This was in the spring of 1861 and he was just getting well started when, owing to the continued progress of the Civil war, he could no longer content himself to remain at home and in the fall of 1861 closed the doors of his store and enlisted in the Confederate army for ninety days. The regiment, the Seventeenth Mississippi Infantry, was attached to Barkstall’s brigade and on the expiration of his term of service Mr. Seale was mustered out, but almost immediately re-enlisted for three years’ service. His command was attached to Lee’s army until the close of the war and was at Appomattox Courthouse at the time of the surrender. Mr. Seale went to the front with Captain Holder’s company of one hundred and twenty men, only seven of whom lived to return home. He was in twenty-five hotly contested engagements together with many skirmishes, and he knows the entire history of war in all of its hardships and horrors. He was never off duty and was often found in the thickest of the fight, proving himself a valiant soldier and a faithful defender of the cause that he espoused. When the war was over he returned home to find that his store and goods had been destroyed by fire and the old homestead too was in ruins, the house having been burned to the ground, while the place was entirely stripped of all of the indications of modern progressive farming. Realizing the necessity of at once making arrangements whereby he could earn a living and gain a new start in life Mr. Seale came to Texas in 1866, hoping that he would find better opportunities in this state. He first located in Hopkins county, where he bought land and improved a farm, remaining thereon for six years, when he sold out and came to Johnson county. Here he purchased land that was partially improved and as the years passed by his efforts resulted in making this a valuable property. Prospering in what he undertook, he was enabled to add to his realty possessions until he owned three good and well developed farms in Johnson county continuing to make his home there until 1898, when he sold two of the farms, but retained the ownership of the old homestead. He then went to Concho county and carried on general mercantile pursuits in Paintrock for a period of three years enjoying a good patronage that made the venture profitable. On the expiration of that period, however, he came to Belcher and was allied with its business interests as a dealer in dry goods and groceries for two years. He has since lived retired, however, having accumulated a comfortable competence that now enables him to enjoy a well earned rest.

Mr. Seale was united in marriage to Miss Naoma Harris, a native of Georgia, in which state her father died, after which the mother came with the family to Texas, settling in Johnson county, where she bought a farm. The members of the Harris family were: William and John, who are deceased; Mrs. Maggie Lankford; Mrs. Lane Walraven; Mrs. Sue Norris; and Naoma. Mr. and Mrs. Seale have but one child, Viola, who is now the wife of Dr. L. L. Craddock of Belcher, where he is successfully practicing his profession. The wife and mother died April 25, 1902, in faith of the Christian church, of which she was a most devoted member.

Mr. Seale has never wavered in his allegiance to the Democracy since age conferred upon him the right of franchise, yet he has never been an aspirant for office. Since eighteen years of age he has been numbered among the faithful members of the Christian church and in the Masonic fraternity he has attained the Royal Arch degree. In the varied relations of life in which he has been found he has ever been loyal to honorable principles and manly conduct and his genuine personal worth has made him a man whom to known is to esteem and honor.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 362-364.