Rose, Archibald Johnson (1830–1903)

By: Ralph A. Smith

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

Archibald Johnson Rose, pioneer, Grange leader, and education reformer, the son of Howell S. and Mary (Durham) Rose, was born on September 3, 1830, in Caswell County, North Carolina. Later the same year the family moved to Missouri. On April 24, 1849, Rose joined a group of Forty-niners, who staked a claim on the South Fork of the Yuba River and panned $80,000 worth of gold before selling out for $100,000. Rose then hauled freight from Sacramento to the mining camps. He returned to Missouri, where he bought a farm and in 1854 married Sallie Ann Austin, whose uncle, Thomas F. McKinney persuaded her and her father, Walker Austin, to bring their families to Texas. They reached Onion Creek in Travis County on October 28, 1857. They moved to Bastrop County in 1858 and in January 1860 settled on San Saba River in San Saba County. There Rose, in addition to ranching, established a community with grist and saw mills and a schoolhouse.

The Lipan Apaches and Comanches terrorized the Rose neighborhood, taking both livestock and people; Rose lost many cattle in 1860, and in 1866 the Lipans drove off his entire herd. He became a lieutenant in a company of minutemen organized to protect the frontier. When the company was incorporated in the Confederate Army, Rose became a major. Between February 6 and June 1, 1864, he served with the Second Frontier Regiment under Maj. George B. Erath. Frontier units patrolled the frontier and fought Indians and jayhawkers. The years 1865 and 1868 were the worst. Some of Rose's neighbors were scalped, and two members of his immediate family were wounded. Rose sold out in 1868, moved to Bell County, and settled on a farm near Salado in 1870.

On July 5, 1873, when R. A. Baird organized the first Grange in the Southwest at Salado, Rose joined. In October he helped organize the Texas State Grange in Dallas, and in 1874 he aided in drafting its constitution and bylaws. William W. Lang, worthy master of the state Grange, appointed Rose a district deputy to organize lodges. In 1875 Rose attended the state Grange, where he served on the Committee on the Constitution and became a worthy lecturer. He spread the new evangelism over Texas and the Indian Territory so effectively that the order reached 1,275 lodges and 40,000 members in 1876. He became worthy overseer and from 1880 to 1891 was worthy master at the time when the order, though considerably reduced in membership, was one of the most potent political, social, moral, and intellectual forces in Texas. Rose pushed the Grange's cooperative program, organized a few textile mills, and served as president of its Texas Farmer Publishing Association, its Texas State Grange Fair, its Real Estate and Immigration Association, and its Texas Mutual Fire Insurance Association; he was also secretary of the Texas Co-operative Association, the marketing and purchasing agency at Galveston for the 150 Grange stores.

Rose was a foremost Texas crusader for better schools and teachers, free textbooks, and vocational education. He became a member of the board of directors of Texas A&M in 1887 and was president of the board from 1891 to 1896. He was also a trustee of Salado College and of the Salado public school. Governor Charles A. Culberson made Rose commissioner of agriculture, insurance, statistics, and history in 1894. He urged a revamping of the insurance laws and supported the Texas State Library in acquiring important historic manuscripts. He joined the Texas State Historical Association in its first year. Rose became grand master of the Masonic order in Texas in 1886. Of his eleven children eight reached adulthood. Rose died on December 13, 1903, at Salado.

Curtis E. McDaniel, Educational and Social Interests of the Grange in Texas, 1873–1905 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1938). Archibald Johnson Rose Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Ralph A. Smith, A. J. Rose, Agrarian Crusader of Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1938). Ralph A. Smith, "A. J. Rose, A Pioneer of the San Saba Country," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 15 (1939). Ralph A. Smith, "The Grange Movement in Texas, 1873–1900," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 42 (April 1939). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Education
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • School Founders

Time Periods:

  • Civil War
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

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

Ralph A. Smith, “Rose, Archibald Johnson,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 08, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: