Alsup, Nelson Fisher (1877–1952)

By: Frank Wagner

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: September 18, 2018

Nelson Fisher Alsup, politician, was born on July 20, 1877, in Wilson County, Tennessee, the son of Joseph Franklin and Rachel Baskin Alsup. He was educated at home, at the Belton Male Academy (Wedemeyer's Academy), and at Sam Houston Normal (now Sam Houston State University) in Huntsville. He taught school at Durango, Paige, and other small Central Texas communities. Alsup married Laura Kate Johnson of Day's Lake near Waco on August 23, 1905. They had six children.

In 1906 Alsup ran unsuccessfully against Thomas T. Connally for justice of the peace in Falls County. When the anti-Ferguson faction of the Democratic party joined with the Ku Klux Klan to control state offices, Alsup ran for superintendent of public instruction on the American (Know-Nothing) party ticket. Pat M. Neff, a leader of the anti-Ferguson faction, had not registered under the conscription act of 1917, claiming he was overage. Alsup obtained photographs of the Neff family Bible showing an erasure in the name of Patty M. Neff, born in 1871. There was no entry for Pat Morris Neff. The Neff family burial ground showed tombstones for each of the Neff children except Patty M. Neff, though there was some disturbance of the gravestones. Alsup published this information in the Ferguson Forum. After Neff's election as governor, an indictment for criminal libel was issued in McLennan County, and about two the next morning Alsup was taken from his home on Little River in Bell County by persons claiming to be Texas Rangers. He remained hidden for some time. Attempts to serve a writ of habeas corpus at several jails in Central Texas were unsuccessful because he was being held in a camp in secluded cedarbrakes west of Waco. Once the camp was discovered, Alsup was placed under arrest, brought to trial in Waco, and quickly convicted. The Court of Criminal Appeals confirmed the conviction, saying "The evil design, which is an essential element of criminal libel, requires no specific proof..." and "the truth of a statement charging acts which were disgraceful but not penal is no defense to a prosecution for publishing such statement." Another hearing was denied by the court on March 8, 1922. Neff's second term as governor expired, and Governor Miriam A. Ferguson pardoned Alsup and fully restored his civil rights. Alsup never again swayed from his support of the Democratic party.

Under patronage of George W. West, he became editor of a Live Oak County newspaper. During this time he wrote a novel, The Lost Crucifix of Our Lady of Guadalupe (1977), a thinly veiled fictional account of the life and some adventures of George West. Alsup lobbied the Texas legislature during the 1930s and 1940s for the Texas Sheep and Goat Raisers, the Texas Soil Conservation Association, and others. Some of his most earnest lobbying was for the State Soil Conservation Act, which was passed in 1939. He led an unsuccessful write-in campaign against Commissioner of Agriculture McDonald. The largest write-in vote ever recorded in Texas was levied against McDonald. Alsup died on February 29, 1952 at Temple.

Temple Daily Telegram, March 1, 1952.

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

Frank Wagner, “Alsup, Nelson Fisher,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994
September 18, 2018