Honor. Heritage. History.
Story and Photos by Samuel Petty
Since 1892, the Sageser family of Cotton Center, Texas, has been farming and running cattle as a means of supporting their family. The Sageser family has a long history of hard work and determination. They never looked for a big bloom on a short vine and as a result, their farm has thrived during the hardest times.
Their work ethic has led to success in farming for many years in the harsh west Texas climate.
Being in the west Texas region for more than 100 years, the Sageser’s have seen technologies develop, land change owners, and farmers leave the area to find other means of income.
The Sageser family has seen many changes, even before Lubbock was an incorporated city and has tied the cotton industry and Texas Tech together.
Jack, Chris and Jay Ray are three generations of Red Raiders that are proud of their farming heritage. All three agree it is the best life, and they could not be more proud of the opportunities they have been given in this region.
Jack Sageser, 78, graduated from Tech in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education. Seeing Tech through his eyes is nothing more than a memory of time spent in a small community that was driven by its agricultural surroundings.
Today, Lubbock still has healthy agricultural roots. Jack has seen great development in his lifetime and has always been close to Tech physically and emotionally.
“I was in the farming operation, and I had to come home twice week to see about the farm. I couldn’t do that with any other college, and besides, it’s the best college to go to.”
While Jack had good years at Tech he is proud of, he is also proud of his son Chris, 50, who also attended Tech and earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education.
Jack’s grandson Jay Ray, 20, currently attends Tech, majoring in agricultural education. Neither Chris or Jay Ray, felt obligated to go to Tech they said.
“Basically, dad blazed the trail for me,” said Chris. “He always made it sound like a good deal, so it sounded good to us.”
Jack not only taught his son everything he needed to know about farming, he also showed Chris the importance of higher education and making sure to always diversify himself.
Although the value of the dollar has changed over the years, the cost of attending college has seen even greater fluctuations.
“A dollar was worth so much back then,” Jack remarked. “You could take a few dollars and buy so much. My tuition was $50 a credit hour.”
Jack explained when he was at Tech, there were only 4,000 students and not everyone had a car. It was uncommon to have a car then, but he said he always did for traveling between the farm and school.
Chris graduated from Tech in December of 1981 and his memories seemed to reflect the campus current students know today—congested, crowded and parking being hectic every day.
On the other hand, Chris spoke about positive aspects he acquired from years spent at Tech including the development of specialized technologies in the cotton industry for tractors and in-depth studies done at Tech concerning soil and crop sciences.
“We were always eager for whatever new technologies came along,” said Chris. “You know one of the bigger things that came along was sprinklers during my lifetime and that changed everything.”
“Our family has seen it from the mule to tractors that drive themselves and sprinklers to drip. We’ve tried every technology that they’ve put out there,” said Chris.
Although Jay Ray has a few years before his own graduation, his signs of benefiting the farm are promising as he is able to offer input on new, cutting edge technology. Aside from school, Jay Ray competes on the competitive national champion Tech Ranch Horse team.
“I went to Tech because it was close and they had the ranch horse team that was available to me, and that was a big thing to me,” said Jay Ray. “I’ve always been apart of horses and that lifestyle. Just everything worked to my benefit to go to Tech. There wasn’t any reason I’d go anywhere else. I had everything I needed right there.”
During tough economic times, the Sageser family shows no signs of slowing down in the farming industry. They are dedicated to both farming and Tech and want to keep future generations involved with both. Although they are three different people, they share the same values and beliefs and keep a foundation of strong faith and character that makes their family proud while remaining humble.
“Farming has been a good life,” Jack said, “Anyone who had the opportunity would grab it in a minute. It’s the best.”