Dow, James Lorenzo (1878–1958)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: December 1, 1994

James Lorenzo Dow, pioneer journalist, was born on September 25, 1878, near Evant in Hamilton County, Texas, the third of five children of James and Margarete Goodall (Nisbet) Dow. His father, a retired sea captain, had immigrated to Texas from Scotland in 1871 and settled initially near McKinney. The family moved to Lampasas, then to Gail in Borden County, where Dow completed his elementary school education. He attended high school in Colorado City and there learned the printer's trade by working after hours and on weekends as an apprentice to his brother-in-law, C. W. Simpson, editor of the Colorado Spokesman. After graduating in 1897 he worked for the Stockman Publishing Company, which put out the West Texas Stockman, the first official mouthpiece of the Cattle Raisers' Association of Texas (see TEXAS AND SOUTHWESTERN CATTLE RAISERS ASSOCIATION). About 1900 Dow returned to Gail and edited his first newspaper, the Borden Citizen. On September 22, 1901, he married Leitha Smith, daughter of Charles (Scalper) Smith, an area surveyor and bounty hunter. Soon afterward, Dow sold the Citizen and moved with his bride back to Colorado City, but within four months Leitha died and was buried in the cemetery at Gail.

Dow conducted a weekly paper and commercial printing operation, initially with a partner, in Colorado City for a few years and then moved to Sweetwater, where he purchased the Weekly Review. After a fire destroyed that paper's plant, he worked as a journeyman printer for the papers in Merkel, Brownwood, and Stephenville. On May 1, 1904, he married Lila Dorn in Colorado City; they had three sons and a daughter.

With his savings Dow moved to Lubbock, then a tiny frontier settlement, in December 1905 and became foreman and associate editor of its weekly Avalanche. In 1909 he bought out the company and sought to increase the paper's size and circulation. By 1921 he had developed the Lubbock Avalanche from a one-man, five-column, four-page, hand-set weekly to a daily with modern, updated machinery and a staff of twenty. As editor of the Avalanche, Dow became an original booster of South Plains agriculture and of Lubbock as the area's industrial and distribution center. His advertisements served to bring in more railroad connections and attract more farmers and businessmen. He played in Lubbock's first brass band, served on the Lubbock school board, and was instrumental in organizing the annual Panhandle-South Plains Fair, one of the largest in the Southwest. He also served the Lubbock First Methodist Church as a board member and Sunday school superintendent. One of his last crusades was to secure the location of Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in Lubbock in 1925. The town of Lorenzo in Crosby County was named for him.

In 1926 Dow sold the Lubbock Avalanche to a competing firm, the Evening Journal, which subsequently published it as the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Dow owned the Wink Times-Telegram until 1936 and then published the Winkler County News in Kermit before retiring from journalism in 1943. From 1943 to 1946 he served as manager of the Phillips-Dupre Hospital in Levelland. Afterward he moved to Seminole in Gaines County, where his father had moved in 1904. In Seminole, Dow managed the Gaines County Clinic and Hospital until his death, in 1958. He was buried in the City of Lubbock Cemetery.

Borden County, Texas: The First One Hundred Years (Gail, Texas: Borden County Historical Commission, 1976). Gaines County Historical Survey Committee, The Gaines County Story, ed. Margaret Coward (Seagraves, Texas: Pioneer, 1974). Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, June 15, 1967.


  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Dow, James Lorenzo,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 27, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 1, 1994