What’s in a name? Alvord, Texas

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, April 21, 2018
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Here is what is said about the naming of Alvord on most websites that give an account, however brief, of the city. “First known as Nina, the town was renamed Alvord in 1883, probably in honor of J.B. Alvord, president of the railroad.”


In A History of Wise County: A Link with the Past, Volume 2, there is an account of the history of Alvord as recalled by William Covington. Covington was born in 1878 in this area. He was there on Sept. 27, 1882, the day the first train arrived. This was a huge event, and Covington recalled that there was a large crowd. Sitting atop his father’s shoulders, he remembered a man named Alvord who got off the train and requested the town be named after him. Covington’s account has no information about who Alvord was.


Research revealed some interesting information about these two stories. Or, more accurately, there was no information found that linked any person named Alvord with the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway Company.

Searching for J.B. Alvord produced almost no results. The only J.B. Alvord found was a farmer in California. Although alive at the right time, his biography removes him from contention. He had been a school teacher in the Northeast, then moved to California and became a prominent farmer.

It is doubtful he was on the train between Fort Worth and Wichita Falls on Sept. 23, 1882, and he could not have been the president of the railroad.

The history of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway company revealed that in 1882, the president was J.M. Eddy, one of the founders of the company. He was succeeded by Morgan Jones, another big name in railroad construction.


So, who was this man Alvord, for whom the town is named? An educated guess would be that he was an officer of the railroad who was on the initial train ride, just not the president.

A byproduct of railroad construction through these vast, empty territories was townsite promotion. In order for the railroad to succeed, people needed a reason to travel on them. Towns were built up around depots to help ensure the future of the line. Townsite promotion companies would invest in and develop these communities.

Townsite promotion was big business and, although not directly related to the railroad, in the railroad’s interest. But it was risky and typically not profitable in the short term. So, the railroad usually left the townsite promotion to others. It was common, however, for officers of the railroad to take advantage of this opportunity and invest their personal funds.

It is therefore reasonable to theorize that Mr. Alvord, J.B. or otherwise, was somehow connected to the railroad and was speculating on the formation of the town.

Otherwise, he was just some guy on a train who had the gumption to ask a town to name itself after him.

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