Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross, a man of many accolades – soldier, statesman, and esteemed university president – was born on September 27, 1838, in Bentonsport, Iowa Territory. The Ross family ventured to the frontier of the Republic of Texas in 1839, where Sul’s destiny as a prominent figure began to unfold.
His early years were marked by involvement in frontier defense, which instilled in him a sense of duty and responsibility. Recognizing the transformative power of education, Ross pursued learning at Baylor University and obtained his A.B. degree from Wesleyan University in Florence, Alabama in 1859.
With a fervent spirit of service, Sul Ross served as a Captain in the Mounted Texas Rangers from October 1859 to February 1860. During the Civil War, he displayed remarkable leadership as a Brigadier General, commanding the Texas Cavalry Brigade within the 6th Texas Cavalry.
After the war, Sul Ross turned to cattle ranching and farming, but his commitment to public service persisted. He held the position of Sheriff of McClennan County from 1873 to 1875, and later became an influential member of the 1876 Texas Constitutional Convention. As a state senator from 1881 to 1883, he continued to champion the values he held dear.
In 1886, Ross ascended to the Governorship of Texas, embarking on a transformative tenure. His dedication to public education was unwavering, and he oversaw the construction of the iconic new state capitol building.
In 1891, Sul Ross took the helm as president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, where his visionary leadership revitalized the institution. Under his guidance, the college flourished and earned widespread respect throughout the state.
Tragically, Sul Ross passed away on January 3, 1898, in College Station, leaving behind a legacy that profoundly impacted Texas. The people of Texas mourned the loss of a courageous, devoted leader, and lauded him for his unyielding dedication to the state and his unwavering spirit of public service.
On January 4, 1898, The Dallas Morning News paid homage to Sul Ross, acknowledging that few individuals had served Texas as profoundly as he did. Throughout his life, he discharged every duty with diligence, ability, honesty, and patriotism, leaving an indelible mark on the history of the Lone Star State.