Lafayette Lumpkin Foster was born on November 27, 1851, in Cumming, Forsyth County, Georgia. He moved to Texas at the age of eighteen and lived successively in the Limestone County communities of Horn Hill and Springfield. He worked at cotton picking or bricklaying until he had saved enough money to attend Waco University. Foster moved to Groesbeck in 1873 and began the publication of a newspaper there, the Limestone New Era, in 1876. He left the New Era when his political activities became too time-consuming. In 1880 he was a representative in the Seventeenth Legislature; in the Nineteenth Legislature he was the speaker of the House, the youngest man to hold the position at that time. Governor Lawrence S. Ross appointed him commissioner of insurance, statistics, and history, and later of agriculture. As commissioner, he helped Attorney General James S. Hogg to harry illegally operated insurance companies out of Texas. On May 4, 1891, Hogg appointed Foster to the first Railroad Commission. However, Foster resigned to become vice president and general manager of the Velasco Terminal Railway. He became president of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M University) in 1898 and held the position until his death. He helped plan Texas A&M. Foster married Laura Pender on January 2, 1875, and they had five sons and two daughters. The family belonged to the First Baptist Church in Groesbeck. Foster was a member of the Groesbeck Masonic Lodge, where he served for a time as worshipful master. He died of pneumonia on December 2, 1901, and was buried on the Texas A&M campus.
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Lewis E. Daniell, Personnel of the Texas State Government, with Sketches of Representative Men of Texas (Austin: City Printing, 1887; 3d ed., San Antonio: Maverick, 1892). Presiding Officers of the Texas Legislature, 1846–1982 (Austin: Texas Legislative Council, 1982). Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.
University Presidents and School Administrators
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Stephanie A. Panus,
“Foster, Lafayette Lumpkin,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 23, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
January 1, 1995