The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986 Page: 237
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Dale Lasater has written an affectionate and informative portrait of
his grandfather, Ed C. Lasater, a South Texas rancher, developer, and
politician of the early twentieth century. After struggling for several
years to settle the debts of his deceased father and to surmount his own
business losses, Ed Lasater began to purchase land in Starr and Duval
counties in the late i 89os at bargain prices from drought-stricken His-
panic ranchers. By 1906 he had accumulated more than 350,000 acres
and a herd of over 1 o0,000 cattle. Lasater's exploits were not limited to
ranching, however. He promoted the extension of railroad lines to
South Texas, subdivided part of his ranch land and sold lots to small
farmers, encouraged agricultural diversification, introduced dairying
to South Texas, founded the town of Falfurrias, and maintained at least
partial ownership of most of the leading businesses within the town. On
the political front, Lasater challenged the corrupt political bosses of
Starr and Duval counties, arranged the formation of a separate county
for Falfurrias and much of his farming and ranching empire, ran for
governor as the nominee of the Progressive party in 1912, and briefly
served in the administration of Woodrow Wilson during World War I.
Despite his admiration for these accomplishments, Dale Lasater does
not abstain from criticism of his grandfather. The author discusses Ed
Lasater's quick temper, his reputation as "a poor judge of men" (p. 65),
his tolerance of the extravagant and misleading claims that his repre-
sentatives made to prospective land buyers, and, most importantly, his
shortcomings as an entrepreneur. Shoddy accounting, which often
existed only in Lasater's head, concealed sizeable losses even during
supposedly prosperous years, and his mounting indebtedness sealed
his financial doom when the cattle market plummeted in the aftermath
of World War I, never really recovering before the onslaught of the
depression of the 1930s. Dale Lasater even raises serious questions
about the viability of his grandfather's experiments in agricultural
In two areas the book is disappointing. Like most other South Texas
politicians of his era, Ed C. Lasater was a shadowy figure. Unfortu-
nately, Dale Lasater does little to penetrate those shadows with new re-
search. For the most part he simply summarizes the findings of Dudley
M. Lynch, this reviewer, and others in explaining the complex and
often violent confrontations between Lasater's forces and the local
Democratic bosses. Lasater's relationship with the Hispanic population
also receives only cursory treatment. Did he play the role of patron,
which the earlier Anglo ranchers and politicians had assumed? Did he
participate in the racist demagogy that tainted so many reformist cam-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 89, July 1985 - April, 1986, periodical, 1985/1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117151/m1/275/: accessed August 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.