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LASATER, EDWARD CUNNINGHAM

LASATER, EDWARD CUNNINGHAM (1860–1930). Edward Cunningham Lasater, South Texas rancher, dairyman, and land developer, son of Albert Hezekiah and Sarah Jane (Cunningham) Lasater, was born at Valley Farm, near Goliad, Texas, on November 5, 1860. As a teenager, with his father's health failing, he was forced to abandon his schooling and his dream of becoming a lawyer in order to help with his family's sheep operations in Atascosa County. Lasater and his father purchased a ranch near Oakville in Live Oak County in 1882. Following his father's death in 1883, Lasater spent several years buying and selling large lots of cattle, establishing his credit, and broadening his knowledge of Texas rangelands. In 1895 he turned his ambitious plans toward South Texas, where he made the first of the many land purchases that made his Falfurrias ranch one of the biggest in the state; it reached its maximum size of some 350,000 acres a decade later. Lasater's purchase of 7,000 brood cows from the Kenedy Pasture Company in 1895 launched him on a course that made him known as one of the leading cattle breeders of Texas. With the extension of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway south from Alice to his ranch in 1904, Lasater founded the town of Falfurrias and subdivided a sizable portion of his ranchland for sale to farmers. After four years of effort he and his supporters succeeded in 1911 in forming Brooks County, with Falfurrias as the county seat. Lasater achieved fame for the size and quality of his Hereford and Shorthorn herds, his pioneering use of Brahman bulls for cross-breeding, and his ownership of the largest herd of Jersey cattle in the world. Sweet cream butter and other products from his Falfurrias Creamery Company made the town a familiar name throughout the state.

Lasater was elected president of the Cattle Raisers Association of Texas (now the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Associationqv) in 1911, and the following year he was the Texas Bull Moose party's candidate for governor. In 1917 Herbert Hoover named him chief of the Department of Livestock and Food Production in the United States Food Administration. Lasater soon resigned, however, because of differences with the president. He married Martha (Patti) Noble Bennett in 1892, and they had two sons. Martha died in childbirth in 1900. In 1902 Lasater married Mary Gardner Miller of Galveston; they had five children. His three surviving children became well known: Garland as president of the Falfurrias Creamery Company, Tom as originator of Beefmaster cattle, and Lois as the wife of Houston industrialist John F. Maher. Lasater died on March 20, 1930, in Ardmore, Oklahoma.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Mary Whatley Clarke, A Century of Cow Business: A History of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (Fort Worth: Evans, 1976). Dale Lasater, Falfurrias: Ed C. Lasater and the Development of South Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1985). Lawrence M. Lasater, The Lasater Philosophy of Cattle Raising (El Paso: Texas Western Press, 1972).

Dale Lasater

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Dale Lasater, "LASATER, EDWARD CUNNINGHAM," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fla42), accessed July 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.