|Hugh L. Witcher|
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|This photo was found opposite page 391 in History of Texas, together with a biographical history of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson counties : containing a concise history of the state, with portraits and biographies of prominent citizens of the above named counties, and personal histories of many of the early settlers and leading families, 1893, Lewis Publishing Company. The following bio is from the same publication.|
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Hugh L. Witcher, senior member of the firm of Witcher & Coffield, merchants of Rockdale, Milam County, is a native of Macon County, Tennessee, where he was born November 19, 1839. He was reared in his native State and in the State of Illinois, whither his parents moved when he was young. His earliest occupation was farming, but in growing up he learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed at intervals for some years before engaging in his present business.
Soon after the opening of the late war Mr. Witcher, who was then residing in Illinois, entered the Union Army, enlisting early in 1863, in the Sixth Illinois Cavalry, with which he was in active service (under Wilson) until the close of hostilities. He took part in those daring and destructive raids for which Wilson's Cavalry became famous, and which were actively continued up to thee close of the war. Having had the good fortune to escape wounds and imprisonment, he received his discharge at Selma, Alabama, in April 1865, and returning to Illinois, resided in that State and later in Mississippi, engaged in farming and at his trade until 1873. At that date he came to Texas and in August of the same year located at Rockdale, where he resumed work at carpentering, which occupation he followed energetically and successfully for about a year.
In June 1874, he was elected Marshall of Rockdale and held this position for about four years, discharging its delicate and difficult duties acceptably to the people, these four years covering the turbulent period of Rockdale's history, when the office was by no means a sinecure. In 1878 he embarked in the mercantile business in partnership with J.R. Roland, who later sold his interest to J.F. Coffield, when the firm became Witcher & Coffield, as it now stands. Mr. Witcher's career, though unpretentious, has thus been diversified and has not been lacking in that kind of experience which qualifies one in the highest degree for appreciating the struggles of others, as well as fitting him for the successful discharge of every duty as a citizen.
The last few years of his life have been marked by the largest measure of success, which yet attended him, though not by the most arduous labors. His early years, as is the case with most of those who begin with comparatively little or nothing and afterward achieve substantial results, were attended with toil, hardships and uncertainties; but it was the formative period when the principals were taking root and the habits being formed which were to lead to better things. The splendid mercantile establishment of which he is the head may be said to be in a large measure the concrete embodiment of his principles and methods, the visible expression of the mental and moral motives of his life.
Upon the career which has culminated, with the aid of his associates in the building up of this interest, he did not enter with the impulsive or capricious flight of genius but under the steady and firm propulsion of sound, practical sense, and his conduct has at all times been accentuated by the same steadfastness of purpose, the same persevering industry an the same practical sagacity with which he began his career. One thing is noteworthy: Mr. Witcher has always followed the safe practice of keeping his funds invested in a business of which he has full knowledge, and in lines where constant personal supervision has been possible if not at all times actually exercised. For this reason he has never been caught in any financial squeezes or suffered serious loss.
The firm of Witcher & Coffield, dealers in hardware, implements, furniture, saddles and harness, is the largest of its kind in Milam County, carrying a full stock in all of these lines and doing a business varying from $80,000 to $90,000 a year. Besides this interest Mr. Witcher holds stock in a number of local enterprises either individually or as a member of the firm, the principal of these being the First National Bank, the oil mills, the waterworks, the electric-light plant and the coal mines.
He has served as Alderman or Rockdale and in politics is a Republican, but conducts himself very little with political matters, being devoted to business. It is generally understood without questioning that his name always stands pledged to the support of every interest favoring the welfare of the community. Public enterprises, whatever, will improve, elevate and adorn the society in which he moves and the county in which he makes his home, meet his cordial approbation and receive his prompt advocacy and assistance. The education of the masses, through free schools provided or greatly assisted by State government, has always found in him a friend and supporter.
By the exercise of industry an good management he has accumulated a competency, but recognizing the difficulties that others encounter in beginning business, he has taken pleasure in extending to them aid by giving them clerkships and counseling with them respecting their future careers. In this way he has created enduring friendships among young men of his acquaintance, and has assisted in opening avenues of activity destined to lead to successful and honorable lives. He is of quiet, retiring disposition, temperate in habits, liberal, earnest and active, one in whom the domestic virtues preponderate, and who easily makes friends and firmly holds them when once made.
In 1884, Mr. Witcher married Miss Ruth Stribling, a daughter of Rev. Dr. James H. Stribling, then of Rockdale and for many years an eminent minister of the Baptist church in Texas. Mrs. Witcher was born and reared in this State and is a lady who is in every way capable of affording her husband the helpful service sought in this union.
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