Alabama Constitutional Officers

Robert Patton McDavid


Secretary of State: 1898-1903


Robert Patton McDavid, businessman and Secretary of State, was born April 16, 1867, at Huntsville, and died August 20, 1915; son of John Jackson and Mary J. (Patton) McDavid who lived at Huntsville and at Florence; grandson of Gov. Robert M. and Jane L. (Brahan) Patton, and of John and Nancy (Clayton) McDavid, who came to Madison County in its early years, the latter's ancestors being natives of Ireland; great-grandson of Gen. John Brahan, and of Wm. and Nancy (Durroh) McDavid of Scotch ancestry who came from Ireland to South Carolina in 1785. Mr. McDavid received his first instruction in private schools in Huntsville, attended the Florence State Normal College; and later entered the University of Alabama, from which he graduated, A.B., 1885.


He located in Birmingham, and engaged in newspaper work; was first a reporter on the Evening Chronicle; later took a position on the staff of the Age-Herald, and rose from police reporter through the successive stages to the position of managing editor. In the mean time he was interested in the real estate business. In 1894 he removed to Montgomery where he became correspondent for a chain of seventeen non-resident newspapers, through which he rendered incalculable service in presenting to the world the resources of Alabama. He was a clerk in the House of Representatives during the 1894, 1896, and 1898 sessions of the legislature.


In 1898 he was elected Secretary of State, and re-elected in 1900, serving four years. In 1896 he was an alderman of Highland Park, then a suburb of Montgomery. He was aide de camp on the staff of Gov. Wm. D. Jelks. He was a trustee of the Troy Normal School. He returned to Birmingham upon the conclusion of his second term of office and engaged in the real estate and insurance business. He was a Democrat; and a Methodist. Married: December 23, 1890, in Birmingham, to Virginia Irene, daughter of Dr. Joseph R. Smith. Children: 1. Robert Patton, jr.; 2. Mary Virginia; 3. Joseph R.; 4. Charles Jordan; 5. Ned R. Last residence: Birmingham.


Owen, Thomas McAdory, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Spartanburg: The Reprint Company Publishers, 1978 (1921), IV, 1108.