LEONARD H. ALDRIDGE, who carries on general farming and stock raising, his home being near Saint Jo, was born in Grayson county, Texas, on the 18th of November, 1872. His paternal grandfather, Edward Aldridge, of Kentucky, went to North Carolina and afterward to Georgia at an early day and taking up his abode in the latter state there spent the remainder of his life. He became a leading and influential agriculturist of his community, respected for his genuine worth. His children were: James, Joseph A., William, John, Marion, Thomas, Sarah and Mary J. After the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Aldridge they began their domestic life in Georgia, where he followed the blacksmith’s trade that he had learned in early manhood. At the time of the Civil war he joined the Confederate army and served faithfully for four years, meeting the usual experiences, hardships and exposures incident to a soldier’s life. He continued to follow his trade until 1869, when he removed to Texas and settled in Grayson county, where he purchased a farm, on which he lived for two years. He then sold that property and bought land at Red River station, after which he followed blacksmithing and also improved his land, but on account of hostile Indians he remained for but one year. he then sold out and took up his abode in Hopkins county, where he raised one crop and worked at his trade. In 1874 he removed to Saint Jo, where he purchased land and made a permanent home. Abandoning blacksmithing, he gave his entire attention to farming and stock raising, purchasing at first a small tract of land to which he afterward added as his financial resources increased until his holdings embraced thirteen hundred and twenty acres. He made a good selection and his> is the finest farm in the vicinity of Saint Jo. Excellent improvements were placed upon the property, a good residence and substantial barns and outbuildings were erected and substantial barns and outbuildings were
Joseph A. Aldridge, the second son of Edward Aldridge, was born in Georgia, March 7, 1840, and there spent the days of his boyhood and youth. After arriving at years of maturity he was married to Miss Texan Bryant, whose birth occurred in Georgia, February 8, 1845. Her parents were Gains and Mary (Pertle) Bryant, the former a native of Ireland and the latter of Georgia. They were married in Georgia, where Mr. Bryant followed the carpenter’s trade and also had farming interests. He had a wide and favorable acquaintance in the locality where he made his home and in later life he removed to Tennessee, where he died. His wife was a daughter of Jacob Pertle, a well known farmer and slave owner of Georgia, in which state his death occurred. In the family of Mr. and Mrs. Pertle there were nine children, as follows: Gains, Olmstead, Shade, Stephen, James, William, Lucy A., Betsy A., and Lodusta. The children of Gaines Bryant were: Elijah, a minister of the Christian church; Jacob, Stephen, William, Alonzo, Elizabeth, Mary A., Texan, who became Mrs. Aldridge, and Mrs. Lodusta Kiker.
After the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Aldridge they began their domestic life in Georgia, where he followed the blacksmith trade that he had learned in early manhood. At the time of the Civil war he joined the Confederate army and served faithfully for four years, meeting the usual experiences, hardships and exposures incident to a soldier’s life. He continued to follow his trade until 1869, when he removed to Texas and settled in Montague county, at Red River station, where he purchased a farm, but on account of hostile Indians he remained but for one year. He then sold out and took up his abode in Hopkins county, where he raised two crops and worked at his trade. In 1874 he removed to Saint Jo, where he purchased land and made a permanent home. Abandoning blacksmithing, he gave his entire attention to farming and stock raising, purchasing at first a small tract of land to which he afterward added as his financial resources increased until his holdings embraced eight hundred and twenty acres. He made a good selection and his was the finest farm in the vicinity of Saint Jo. Excellent improvements were placed upon the property, a good residence and substantial barns and outbuildings were erected and the latest improved machinery was added. There is an excellent water supply upon the place and Mr. Aldridge engaged in raising, feeding, handling and shipping cattle. He placed six hundred acres of his land under a high state of cultivation and produced the various crops best adapted to soil and climate. He established two tenant houses on his place, also rented some land and became known as a most prosperous, extensive and successful farmer and stockman, recognized by all as a broad-minded, intelligent businessman and good financier. He owed his success to his energy, determination and indefatigable diligence and thus he created a large estate. The uprising and hostility of the Indians delayed his permanent settlement for two or three years and occasioned him much uneasiness in the early days, but he was in one of the fights with the red men. He assisted materially, however, in the reclamation of his portion of the state for the purposes of civilization and as the years went by his labors proved a valued factor in the development of the county. In politics he was a strong Democrat but without aspiration for office, never desiring political preferment as a reward for party fealty. He was a consistent and worthy member of the Christian church, in which he served as deacon for many years and in the work of which he took a helpful interest. After many years devoted to business he determined to spend the evening of his life in ease and comfort and removed to Saint Jo. Soon afterward he became ill with smallpox, which occasioned his death March 28, 1901. He is yet kindly remembered by his many friends, who greatly miss him. His wife yet survives and resides upon the old homestead farm. This worthy couple were the parents of ten children: Jacob, who died in childhood; S. J. of this review; John, who is living in the Indian Territory; Leonard H., who is represented elsewhere in this volume; Samuel, who died in 1898; Mrs. Myrtle Hillman; Mrs. Alba Varney; Ernest, who died in 1892; Mrs. Ord Davis; and Robert, who is living upon the old homestead farm. The mother is also a worthy and faithful member of the Christian church.
Leonard H. Aldridge was born in Grayson county and upon the old homestead farm was reared. He yet remains here, carrying forward the work inaugurated by his father. He has purchased the interests of some of the other heirs in the property and is now caring for his mother and is conducting his farm work on an extensive scale, giving undivided attention to the production of wheat, corn and oats and to the raising of stock. He is progressive in all that he does and he was the first man in his county to do plowing with a traction engine and gang plow. He seeds from three to five hundred acres of wheat and annually harvest splendid crops. There are two tenant houses on the farm and he rents land to the men who occupy these and who raise cotton and other crops. Some years as high as one hundred acres have been planted to cotton. Mr. Aldridge also operates a threshing machine during the season. He is a most energetic man, brooking no obstacles that can be overcome by strong determination and honorable purpose, and as an agriculturalist he has been a leader in the onward movement. He uses the best improved machinery to facilitate the work and he has telephone connections with the business centers.
On the 18th of September, 1899, Mr. Aldridge was married to Miss Polkey S. Howell, who was born in Texas, November 20, 1880, and is a most estimable lady. Her parents were J. P. and Susan R. (Lillard) Howell. Her mother was born in Tennessee, March 9, 1849, and was a daughter of William and Lucretia (Blevins) Lillard. Her father was a son of Jackson Lillard, of Missouri, who went to Tennessee, where he was married and spent his remaining days. He was a farmer by occupation, served as high sheriff of his county and was a soldier of the War of 1812. In the community where he lived he was regarded as a popular and influential citizen. His children were: Monroe, a minister of the gospel; Morgan; William; MacMinn, also a preacher; Asberry; Thomas K.; Francis; Cynthia A. and Mary.
William Lillard was born and reared on a farm in Tennessee and in early manhood joined the Methodist ministry, holding active relations to the conference for a number of years. In later life he became a local preacher. He owned a farm and was an extensive trader in negroes and mules, which he sold on the public market. In connection with his brother MacMinn, he owned copper mines in Virginia and spent much time in that state. He was a practical business man as well as an able preacher and was highly respected for his genuine worth and fidelity to principle. He was also an exemplary member of the Masonic fraternity, and his funeral services were conducted under the auspices of that order. Both he and his wife died in Tennessee, Mrs. Lillard preceding her husband to the home beyond. She, too, was a devoted member of the Methodist church and she was a daughter of David Blevins, a prominent farmer of Tennessee, in whose family were eight children: James; John; Hugh; Susan; Mary; Sarah; Mahala; Lucretia, who became the wife of H. Thomas, by whom she had two children, Sarah and Hugh, and then after the death of her first husband married William Lillard. To his marriage there were born six children: Myra, the wife of W. A. Smith; Amanda, the wife of B. K. Blevins; John, who entered the Confederate army at the age of fifteen years, as a member of the Tennessee Cavalry and was killed in a cotton gin in the Indian Territory; Susan R., the mother of Mrs. Aldridge, who, since the death of her first husband, married Stephen A. Bryant and is the second time a widow; Emily, who died in childhood; and Mrs. Mary Holman.
Susan R. Lillard was born and reared in Tennessee and was there married to Jackson P. Howell,whose birth occurred in that state, November 15, 1847. He was a son of John and Elizabeth Howell,both natives of Tennessee, the former a prominent farmer and slave owner who became successful in the management of his business interests. He was too old for active service at the time of the Civil war, but gave his influence to the Confederacy, and for this reason he was shot down at his home by federal soldiers. He was standing at his gate and fell into the arms of his daughter. Later his family became scattered and his widow came to Texas with a daughter and died in this state. Both parents were devoted members of the Methodist church and were highly respected. The children were as follows: William; Samuel H., who served in the Confederate army; Joseph, who was one of the proprietors of Saint Jo in its early days; Houston, who entered the army in Texas and served throughout the period of hostilities; John, who was also a soldier and died in this state; Jackson P., the father of Mrs. Aldridge; Mary, the wife of Thomas Whaley; and Rachel, who became Mrs. Whaley and after the death of her first husband married a Mr. Tuttle.
Jackson P. Howell, having arrived at years of maturity in his native state of Tennessee, was married there in 1871. Soon afterward he came to Texas, settling in Cooke county, where he rented land and raised two crops. In 1873 he came to Saint Jo and spent nearly three years in the town. He then bought land five miles west of Saint Jo, taking up his abode in a little cabin about twelve feet square in which he lived until he could erect a better house. He added to his first purchase of land and made a good farm, becoming a successful agriculturist. He also raised stock. In politics he always voted with the Democracy and in community affairs was interested in the welfare and progress that works for civilization and the general good. His death occurred March 28, 1885. In his family were four children: Mason, a machinist possessing much natural mechanical ingenuity; Polkey S., now Mrs. Aldridge; Nellie and Jackson T., yet at home. Following the death of Mr. Howell his wife remained upon the old homestead farm which she yet owns and she supervised its improvement for six years. In 1890 she became the wife of Stephen A. Bryant and has since resided at the Bryant homestead. Her second husband was an early settler of Saint Jo and was a prominent and prosperous farmer and stock man. His death occurred January 18, 1903, in the faith of the Missionary Baptist church, in which he held membership. He was also a member of the Masonic fraternity.
To Mr. and Mrs. Aldridge have been born two daughters: Thelma, born April 1, 1902; and Marvel, born August 30, 1904. The parents have many warm friends in Saint Jo and this section of the state, and their own home is celebrated for its pleasing hospitality. Mr. Aldridge is indeed one of the representative agriculturists of his county with extensive interests which are capably conducted and result in bringing to him a creditable and gratifying measure of prosperity.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 478-480.