Robert Lee Brothers, Jr., the "Poet of Peach Creek," son of Robert Lee and Alma (Kokernot) Brothers, was born on December 29, 1908, at Big Hill, on the old Kokernot ranch in Gonzales County, Texas. He graduated from Gonzales High School and studied one year at Baylor University. When his father died the following June (1929), he returned to the land he had inherited to become a cattleman. Though his roots were in the cattle business, he published three books of poetry and won many poetry awards. His first collection, Democracy of Dust, was published in 1947. The themes in this and subsequent works revolve around ranching, the outdoors, and human nature. His second book, The Hidden Harp (1952), won the Texas Institute of Letters award for 1953. His poem "Requiem for a Foundling" won the Reynolds Lyric Award in Virginia. Among the other awards Brothers received was a special citation given during the semicentennial of The Lyric in 1970 to "poets...who have diligently served the cause of traditional poetry throughout the years." Mabel Major describes his work as "distinguished by precision of phrase and by a keen ironic insight into human character." He was an active member of the Poetry Society of Texas and served as a judge for many poetry contests. Brothers was born a Southern Baptist and a Southern Democrat. Though he never fitted the fundamentalist mold, much of his poetry is deeply spiritual. In the last ten or fifteen years of his life he developed an affinity for the Republican party. He was politically active on the local and county level, where he registered the poor to vote as a part of a campaign to remove corrupt local politicians from office. He was married briefly to Julia Cobb, then divorced. In June 1936 he married Docia Azilea Barfield, an old sweetheart he had known since she was sixteen; they had two daughters. Docia died on October 4, 1955. Brothers died of a heart attack on Mothers' Day, May 13, 1979, at his home in Gonzales.
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Mabel Major et al., Southwest Heritage: A Literary History with Bibliography (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1938; 3d ed. 1972). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Barbara Jo Brothers,
“Brothers, Robert Lee, Jr.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 22, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 1, 1995