Cone, Stephen Elsemere (1893–1970)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

Stephen Elsemere Cone, West Texas grain dealer and real estate and oil man, was born on November 9, 1893, at Yarrellton, Texas, one of ten children of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse M. Cone. At age ten he began his business career with a hive of bees. Later he sold his beekeeping enterprise to finance his education at East Texas Normal School (now East Texas State University) in Commerce. After a year there he attended St. Louis University. In October 1915 Cone was called home by his father's death. He never returned to college.

While living with his mother and younger siblings on the family farm, he began working for C. E. Parks in the grain business. He later purchased the entire interests of the company and in 1927 bought W. K. Dickenson's grain elevator. Over the next two years Cone established elevators in Muleshoe, Bovina, Hereford, Amherst, and Anton. By the early 1930s he was one of the largest dealers in sorghum and sudan grass seed in the Southwest. He later entered the real estate business. In partnership with Col. "Sheb" Williams of Paris, Texas, he bought about 20,000 acres in eastern Lubbock County and sold off parcels of land to newcomers. In addition Cone managed a number of farms, some of which he owned and some of which were owned by others. He also leased land on which he grew cotton and row crops. In 1928 he began buying and selling oil rights on West Texas lands. His most active period in this business came in 1940–41, and a considerable share of his fortune resulted from it. In 1953, however, he suffered a series of strokes that left him an invalid and compelled his retirement.

Cone first married Fern Parks on May 18, 1921, and they had a daughter; they were divorced in 1932. He married Adeline Zeigenhalz on February 6, 1938; they had another daughter and a son. This marriage ended in divorce in 1952. On December 7, 1952, Cone married Lola Meek Ross. He died at his home on May 1, 1970, and was buried in Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock. He was survived by his wife, three children, and six grandchildren.

Seymour V. Connor, ed., Builders of the Southwest (Lubbock: Southwest Collection, Texas Technological College, 1959). Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, May 1, 2, 1970.


  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Oil Entrepreneurs and Wildcatters

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Cone, Stephen Elsemere,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 27, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994