Walter Urie Early gained the reputation as a skillful and colorful prosecutor who was called upon by attorneys statewide for assistance in writing indictments. He gave advice and strategy in important criminal cases. In fact, he prepared the first indictment in Texas charging murder with an automobile.
Walter U. Early had humble beginnings in the small town of Lamasco, KY. He was born on August 15, 1868 to James Madison Early and Francis Elizabeth Smith Early during the Reconstruction years. He was educated in the public schools of Eddyville, KY and graduated from Southern Normal College at Bowling Green, KY.
Believing there were better opportunities for young men in the “new country”, he moved to Brownwood, TX, in January 1893. Brown County was established in 1856. He taught at a country school for three terms, worked at a dry goods store, Ramey, Smith & Co., and then entered the law office of Goodwin & Grinnen. He received his education in law by studying the books in their law office, a common practice in his day. Mr. Early was elected City Attorney of Brownwood at age 27 in April 1895. He spent four years there, then was County Attorney for six years, 1900-1906. From 1906-1930, he was elected each time he ran for District Attorney of the 35th District, the largest judicial district in Texas (Brown, Coleman, Concho, McCulloch, and Runnels counties.)
Hard prosecuting, quick witted, fair minded and always ready to aid the “down and out” when possible, became Mr. Early’s reputation. During his years as a public official, he took part in some of the most important and widely known trials in the state. In honor of Walter U. Early, on December 15, 1951, voters incorporated an area of 906.4 acres to be known as the “City of Early”. The recorded vote was 77 for and 21 against. The school and the city of Early will forever be grateful for the generosity and forethought of Walter Urie Early.