Pat Morris Neff, Governor

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Pat Morris Neff

Birthplace: Eagle Springs, Coryell County, TX
Death: Died in Waco, Mclennan County, TX
Immediate Family:

Son of Noah Nave and Isabella Eleanor Shepherd
Husband of Myrtle Manier

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Immediate Family

About Pat Morris Neff, Governor

Pat Morris Neff (26 November 1871 – 20 January 1952) was the 28th Governor of Texas from 1921 to 1925 and ninth President of Baylor University from 1932 to 1947.

Early life

Born on his family ranch in Coryell County near McGregor, Texas, Neff attended McGregor High School. He received his bachelor's degree from Baylor University in Waco before spending two years teaching at Southwestern Academy in Magnolia, Arkansas. While in Magnolia, Neff taught Harvey C. Couch, who would later become a successful entrepreneur in Arkansas.

Upon returning to Texas, he received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in Austin. There, he developed a close friendship with future U.S. Senators Tom Connally and Morris Sheppard of Texas. He served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1899 to 1905, including a term as Speaker. After returning to his law practice in Waco, Neff was for six years the assistant county attorney and county attorney for McLennan County.

Public Office in Texas

Considered a progressive Democrat, Neff defeated former U.S. Senator Joseph Weldon Bailey, a former populist, in the party primary in 1920 and effectively ended Bailey's political career.

Neff was a strong supporter of prohibition and was instrumental in the development of the Texas State Parks Board. Neff and his mother, Isabella Neff, donated the land which would become the first state park in Texas, Mother Neff State Park. During the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan during his administration, Neff was criticized for not taking a stronger stance. Neff is notable for his pardon of folk singer Lead Belly in his last days as Governor.

Neff was reelected in 1922 but did not seek a third term in 1924. At the time, it was "understood" that no governor should run for a third term though Texas has never had official term limits for the office. Neff was succeeded as governor by Miriam Wallace "Ma" Ferguson, wife of controversial former Governor James E. Ferguson, who defeated a stronger-than-usual Republican nominee, George C. Butte, an American jurist who had opposed James Ferguson's line item veto of the 1917 University of Texas appropriations bill. After leaving the governorship, Neff served on the Texas Railroad Commission. Governor Ross Sterling appointed Ernest O. Thompson of Amarillo to succeed Neff when he left the position to become President of Baylor University. Thompson served on the panel for thirty-two years and developed a reputation as an expert on petroleum issues.

President of Baylor University

After the death of Samuel Palmer Brooks, Neff was nominated to replace him as President of Baylor University. He resigned the post of President of the Board of Trustees, a position that he had held since it was vacated by B. H. Carroll in 1907, upon the nomination as President.


Pat Neff Elementary School in Houston and Pat Neff Middle School of San Antonio (Northside Independent School District) are named for Neff. So is Neff Hall at Baylor.

Neff died in Waco and is interred there at Oakwood Cemetery. His papers, including those from his time as Governor, are housed in the Texas Collection at Baylor University.

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Pat Morris Neff, Governor's Timeline

November 26, 1871
Eagle Springs, Coryell County, TX
Age 8
Coryell, Texas, United States
Age 28
Age 38
Age 48
Age 58
January 20, 1952
Age 80
Waco, Mclennan County, TX