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Ralls, John Robinson (1862–1921)

Seymour V. Connor Biography Entry

John Robinson Ralls, rancher, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, was born in Monroe County, Georgia, on November 13, 1862, the eldest son of John Robinson and Fannie Minnie (Bird) Ralls. While helping his mother operate a 1,000-acre Georgia plantation after his father's death in 1880, Ralls obtained only a few months of formal education at an Atlanta college. In 1890 he moved to Bowie, Texas, and in the following years he was a merchant in Belcherville, Terrell, and finally in Ryan, Oklahoma. In 1906 he traded the Ryan store for a 10,000-acre ranch in Crosby County, Texas. In 1910 a short-line railroad was built through his ranch to Crosbyton, bypassing the county seat at Emma. Ralls laid out a town (named after himself) on the right-of-way to serve the residents of Emma. He divided his ranch into quarter-section tracts for sale to prospective farmers, built homes and business houses in the town, and donated land for schools and churches there. He later built an opera house that locals boasted was one of the finest west of Fort Worth. In 1906 he married Dollie M. Martin, from whom he was divorced in 1920. He was a Presbyterian and thirty-second-degree Mason. He died on October 3, 1921, and was buried in Ralls.

Seymour V. Connor, ed., Builders of the Southwest (Lubbock: Southwest Collection, Texas Technological College, 1959). Ralls Banner, September 25, 1936. Nellie Witt Spikes and Temple Ann Ellis, Through the Years: A History of Crosby County (San Antonio: Naylor, 1952).


  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Business
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

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

Seymour V. Connor, “Ralls, John Robinson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 28, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.