Alexander Harwood, born in Franklin, Tennessee in 1820, came to Dallas County twenty-four years later and lived until July 31, 1885. He died on the same day that General Grant ended his long bout with cancer, an event that crowded almost all other news off the pages of the local press, including the demise of Alexander Harwood. But Harwood left an indelible mark on the life of Dallas and on the memory of its people during the forty-one years of his residence in the city and county. A major street extending from deep South Dallas across the business district and north to Ross and McKinney avenues had long borne his name.
He accompanied his parents, Alexander Maury and Nancy G. (Barksdale) Harwood, as members of the Peters Colony. They settled first some fifteen miles southeast of the town of Dallas at what soon became known as Harwood Springs. This today is the town of Kleberg on the Southern Pacific line between Dallas, Kaufman, Athens, Jacksonville, and Beaumont. The parents had another son, Nathaniel B., who brought his wife and family with him to Dallas County. They had one son, William Alexander, who later moved to Dimmitt County, Texas.
Harwood served Dallas in a variety of ways, but none more efficiently than as clerk of the county court of Dallas County, to which office he was elected in 1850 and reelected for each succeeding two year term through 1854. In 1873 He was elected for two years as clerk of both the county and district courts of Dallas County. Under the new state constitution of 1876 he was reelected in 1878, and again by a tremendous majority in 1880, making in all twelve years for which the people placed him in that responsible position. In 1866 when the people were called upon to elect delegates to a constitutional convention under the reconstruction proclamation issued by President Johnson, Harwood was elected from Dallas County. On the proposal in 1845 to annex Texas to the United States, the vote in Dallas County was twenty-nine in favor and three opposed. Harwood, along with Roderick A. Rawlins and John C. McCoy, the latter the founder of the Dallas Bar, cast the three negative votes. All three at the time were following the political stand taken by Henry Clay of Kentucky, founder of the Whig party, which was unalterably opposed to the admission of Texas into the Union.
When the Civil War drew near, Harwood recalled his vote against annexation and announced his support of secession. Upon the formation of the Confederate government, Judge John H. Reagan, an old friend, called Harwood from the plow handles in Texas to assist in organizing the postal branch of the new government, first at Montgomery, then at Richmond. On March 1, 1862, Harwood returned to Texas and entered the military service as a captain in the 19th Texas Cavalry, serving until the end of the war.
Harwood’s first marriage was to Belle Daniels, elder sister of Capt. L. Smith’s wife and a sister of Mrs. Frank Daniels, who lived on a farm in the north part of Dallas County between the city and the farm place of W. Caruth and his brother. After his first wife’s death Harwood married Sarah Peak, daughter of Capt. Jefferson Peak, who had recently moved to Dallas from Warsaw, Kentucky, and had been a captain in Col. Humphrey Marshall’s regiment of Kentucky cavalry in the battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican War. Captain and his wife had two children: Ripley B. Harwood, later a stock raiser in Stephens County, Texas, and Juliet A. Harwood, later the wife of Prof. James J. Collins of Austin.
Harwood spent most of his first winter of 1845-46 in Texas making a thorough exploration of every principal branch or tributary of the Trinity River; he was an indomitable advocate of making the river navigable from Dallas to the Gulf. He was a moving spirit in the organization of the Dallas County Pioneers Association and signed the organization resolution dated July 13, 1875.
Courtesy Dallas Yesterday by Sam H. Acheson.