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Charles T. McElvaney
Mayor of Denison


 Charles T. McElvaney (1832–1932)

Charles T. McElvaney was a retired master mechanic on the MKT Railroad. On April 1, 1913, he defeated Dr. Alexander W. Acheson and became mayor of Denison. It fell to him to lead the city to complete the new Denison High School on Main Street. As McElvaney had seven children, at least two of whom took high honors at high school graduation, the new mayor had a keen interest in education.

This is a biography published in 1914:

Charles T. McElvaney

[Source: Paddock, B. B. History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906.]

It is one of the appropriate events for the closing years of a long career of service that the mature experience of life should be honored with public office, of the dignity such as executive of a city enjoys. In the spring of 1913 the citizens of Denison elected as their mayor Charles T. McElvaney, who was for many years master mechanic with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway at Denison, and whose service in that department of railroading and with other industrial concerns covers a period of forty-five years. He is one of the veterans of railroad circles in the Southwest, and a man of the highest probity of character and standing as a citizen.

Charles T. McElvaney was born September 4, 1851, at Hornell, New York, the oldest in a family of five children of Charles T. and Alta Palmer McElvaney. He is now the only one of the immediate family in Texas. On his mother's side, the Palmers have a large descent in New York State. His father, who was born in New York, the mother being a native of Vermont, was likewise a railroad man, and for twenty years held the post of locomotive engineer with the Erie Railroad. Later he was for about eight years master mechanic for the M. K. & T. Railroad in the Southwest. From the M. K. & T. he went to a similar position with the Northern Pacific and after about ten years retired from service, and died in Oklahoma in 1907 at the age of about seventy-eight years. His wife passed away about 1865.

Mayor McElvaney got his education in the New York public schools. He was seventeen years old when his experience in the mechanical department of railroading began. He was a machinist's apprentice in the Erie shops at Buffalo, from 1868 to 1872. From the latter year until 1880 he worked as a machinist for different railroad companies, was locomotive engineer on several different lines, principally the Erie, from 1880 to 1883, from the latter until 1887 was superintendent of machinery for the Osage Coal & Mining Company in Oklahoma, and then came to Denison, Texas, where he was general foreman in the M. K. & T. Shops during 1887-1888. 

McElvaney Home
510 West Crawford Street
Denison, Texas
Courtesy of Gretchen Holmes Garrett

Promoted to master mechanic, he served continuously in that capacity at Denison from 1888 to 1899, and finally resigned to accept the superintendency of the mechanical department of the American Cotton Company, with headquarters at Denison. The general offices of this company are in New York City. His work for this well-known corporation continued from 1899 to 1902, a little more than three years. However, with comparatively brief exceptions, Mr. McElvaney has always been identified with the railroad service, and resigned his position with the American Cotton Company to return to the M. K. & T. as master mechanic. He finally resigned that position on February 1, 1913, about forty-five years from the time he had begun as a machinist's apprentice back in New York.

In April 1913, Mr. McElvaney was elected mayor of Denison, and has made a very popular and efficient official. In his political views he is liberal and votes for the man rather than the party. Fraternally his membership is with the Woodmen of the World, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He has long been a member and is now a steward in the Methodist Episcopal Church South of Denison.

On May 15, 1889, at Pilot Grove, Missouri, was solemnized his marriage with Miss Maud Davis, a daughter of Joseph and J. Davis, her father a grain dealer for many years, and also judge in several courts in Missouri. To Mr. and Mrs. McElvaney have been born a fine family of seven children, as follows: Charles, now twenty-three years, is a machinist with the M. K. & T. R. R. at Denison; Lyle, aged twenty-one, is a stenographer in the M. K. & T. Offices at Dallas; Estelle, aged eighteen, graduated from the Denison High School in 1912 and lives at home; Eugene, aged sixteen, is in school; Marie, aged twelve, is also in school; Maud is ten years old and attending the Denison public school; and Lucie Avis is the youngest and is eight years of age. Mr. McElvaney has always thoroughly appreciated his climate and resources, as well as the social advantages of life in North Texas. He has lived in Denison for many years, and has done all he could to forward the growth of the city along substantial and permanent lines.

Gretchen Holmes Garrett wrote : 510 Crawford I thought is the house where my mother grew up.  In fact, all seven McElvaney Children were born in that house.  My parents and I lived upstairs for awhile before we moved into the little house next door.

Amazing how one can have something stuck in your mind.  This morning I looked up a picture of the Crawford Street house that my mother grew up in, and it clearly says 512 Crawford.

Jim Sears wrote : I like the original number that was stuck in Gretchen's mind.  City directories from 1938 to 1951 list the McElvaneys at 510 West Crawford. 'The little house next door' may be 512.

Gretchen H. Garrett wrote : Had dinner with my cousin Bill McElvaney last night.  The house is definitely 510 Crawford.

Note : Gretchen's mother was one of the seven McElvaney children.

The McElvaneys are buried in Fairview Cemetery, Denison, Texas