A. E. Hampton
He was the first attorney west of the Mississippi licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court but he lived most of his life in De Leon and never had a case come before that body. He taught school in De Leon, served for many years as De Leon’s city attorney and was the key legal counsel for investors that brought in the well that kicked off the Desdemona oil boom.
Alpha Earnest (A.E.) Hampton was born in Pontotoc County, Mississippi on January 11, 1876, the first child of James A. and Sarah Frances Todd Hampton. The family moved to Comanche County about 1884 first locating near what is now the community of Rucker before purchasing a 160 farm land near Harmony Church in late 1885.
On January 1, 1898 when A.E. was 22 years old, his father James died. A.E., who had taught school since age 18 along with two brothers who were 20 and 21 respectively, became the primary support for his mother, four younger sisters and two younger brothers. Just over six months later he married Augustus (Gussie) Hilton, who had been born on a farm just east of De Leon in 1875.
He took up the study of law on his own and passed the bar in Austin on his first attempt. He practiced law in De Leon for several years on his own before partnering with Edwin Dabney, son of E.E. Dabney sometime before 1907. Dabney eventually moved to Oklahoma where he ultimately served as the Oklahoma Attorney General.
Hampton was continuing his practice in De Leon when two young men Landum Cullum and William Wrather approached W.E. Lowe then Cashier of the F&M National Bank to find a qualified and reliable attorney to handle land leases for a group of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania oil investors. The two young men and their financial partners ultimately drilled the discovery well setting off the Desdemona oil boom followed by many more wells on the block of land Hampton helped put together.
During the boom years, Hampton partnered with his nephew Clyde Hampton and then Merton R. Harris, under the name Hampton-Harris-Hampton, to handle the volume of legal work generated by the boom. He continued his duties as De Leon’s city attorney throughout those years.
A.E. and Gussie left De Leon by train in late March 1924 for a vacation. He suffered a severe stroke while in Waco and was returned to De Leon where he died on April 1, 1924. Gussie lived until 1954.