Gough, Lysius (1862–1940)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1995

Lysius Gough, farmer, businessman, and author, one of ten children of Asher and Elizabeth Gough, was born in Lamar County, Texas, on July 29, 1862. His father, a minister in the First Christian Church, owned a 160-acre farm on which Gough developed an early interest in cattle raising. In 1876, at the age of fourteen, he ran away from home and got his first job as a cowboy for B. L. Murphy, who ran cattle in Hopkins and Hunt counties. During the next five years Gough participated in several overland drives to Kansas. In 1882 Jule Gunter hired him to work for the T Anchor Ranch. Because he never swore, Gough's fellow cowhands gave him the nickname "Parson." He remained with the T Anchor until 1884, when he decided to complete his education. He entered Pilot Point Institute, finished high school at the age of twenty-six, obtained a teaching certificate, and was hired to be principal of the institute. While he was there, Gough published his first collection of cowboy verse, Western Travels and Other Rhymes (1886).

He also studied law and qualified for the legal profession. In 1888 he married Ida Russell, a former pupil of his at Pilot Point, and they settled on a farm south of Dimmitt. They had ten children, six of whom lived to adulthood. In 1891 Gough taught the county's first school in Dimmitt. Later that year he assisted in the organization of the county and was elected the first county judge. In October 1898 the Goughs moved to Hereford, where he engaged in the real estate business and was for a time in partnership with C. G. Witherspoon. In 1910 Gough was involved with D. L. McDonald in the drilling of irrigation test wells and was among the first to drill his own irrigation well. In 1911 he entered into a contract with the C. B. Livestock Company of Crosby County and conducted experimental work on 10,000 acres to determine what crops and seed types would be most profitable in the county. His detailed weekly reports are in the archives of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. After 1914 Gough began large-scale farming for himself. He was president of the Texas Wheat Growers Association from 1923 until 1928. In 1929 he published a book entitled Crime, in which he denounced the activities of speculators in the Grain Exchange and their effects on prices paid to farmers. He began lecturing on farm subjects and was known throughout the Great Depression as a champion of farmers' rights.

Gough was also among those who sought to preserve the Panhandle's frontier heritage. In 1922 he initiated the annual T Anchor Reunion and helped organize the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society. He supported the building of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and secured several collections of historic interest for it. Known as the cowboys' "poet laureate," he published Spur Jingles and Saddle Songs in 1935. This work included many of the poems from his earlier book Western Travels. Gough was found dead at his home in Amarillo on the morning of November 2, 1940. In his typewriter was his last poem, prophetically titled "Gone."

Castro County Historical Commission, Castro County, 1891–1981 (Dallas: Taylor, 1981). Joseph A. Hill, The Panhandle-Plains Historical Society and Its Museum (Canyon, Texas: West Texas State College Press, 1955). C. Boone McClure, "Lysius Gough," Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 19 (1946).


  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Poets

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Gough, Lysius,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/gough-lysius.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995