Alto History Written in 1934
Among outstanding teachers were Peyton Irving, brought to Alto from Nacogdoches County by Doctor J. M. Noell, Mrs. Anna Ella Harris, and Professor Stripling. The Texas Almanac for 1857 refers to a fine female school at Alto. In 1888 the Alto Cooperative Educational Association was organized with H. W. Berryman as president. Through its efforts the "Alto High School" was established with J. B. Collins as principal. In 1903 the Alto Independent School District was incorporated. Today the town has an accredited high school.
Among prominent pioneer families, many of whom have descendants still living in the town, were the Harrisons, Butlers, Noells, Fishers, Spiveys, Roarks, Dotys, Berrymans, Boones, Boyds, Scotts, Harrys, Frizzells, Holcombs, Singletarys, Hills, Selmans, and Armstrongs.
In February, 1852, the San Antonio Road voting precinct was moved to Alto, with Willis Selman as the first returning officer. The town was incorporated in 1909, with W. M. Blanton as the first mayor. E. P. Palmer now holds this office.
After a disastrous fire in 1882 brick houses were built in what is now the chief business block. Another fire ten years later and a cyclone in 1893 proved additional major disasters. Among the merchants who weathered these blows were A. C. Harrison, H. Y. Fisher, T. J. Ahearn, L. W. Tittle, L. F. Hill, R. Usher and J. W. Summers & Company.
The first newspaper was the Alto News, owned by Doctor J. W. Teague and published by Charles J. Matthews. The plant was sold to J. E. Shook. Later the Alto Herald was established. Its editors include Reverend Thompson, a Methodist minister, T. M. McClure, Elbert E. Allen and Frank L. Weimar, the present owner.
Today Alto has thirty-five business concerns, three churches (Baptist, Methodist and Christian), a brick school building, two banks, three lodges, electric lights and a sewerage system. The oldest business firms are R. M. Fisher, Berryman & Watters and Allen's Drug Store.
Heavy, red soil has made Alto a noted cotton section and, because it is one of the best cotton markets in the area, cotton from three counties has been brought there for sale. Truck-growing and the timber industry have also largely contributed to Alto's prosperity.
A History of Cherokee County, 1934 by Hattie Joplin Roach