Lawrence Sullivan Ross

Old Photograph of Lawrence Sullivan Ross

Museum of the Big Bend Collection

Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross, soldier, statesman and university president, was born at Bentonsport, Iowa Territory, on Sept. 27, 1838. The family immigrated to Texas in 1839 and settled in Waco by 1849. He enrolled at Baylor University in Independence, Texas, and then at Wesleyan University in Florence, Alabama, where he obtained his A.B. degree in 1859.

When Ross returned to Texas, he joined the Texas Rangers and rose to become captain of the Waco Company. While pursuing a Comanche raiding party in December 1860 he recovered Cynthia Ann Parker, an exploit that gained him much popularity in Texas.

With the coming of the Civil War he enlisted in mid-1861 in the Confederate Army as a member of the Waco company. He quickly rose in rank and was promoted to brigadier general in early 1864 and commanded the Texas Cavalry Brigade until the end of the war.

In 1873 the citizens of McLennan County elected Ross sheriff and he would later serve in the state Senate. By 1886 Ross's friends and supporters had persuaded him to run for governor, and he won easily on his first attempt. During his two terms as governor the new Capitol was completed, the state attained new heights of industrial, agricultural and commercial growth, and state educational institutions flourished.

When he left the statehouse, he became the president of the troubled Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). Under his presidency the number of students grew, many new buildings were built and public faith in the institution returned. President Ross died in College Station on January 3, 1898.