While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


William James Battle

PRATHER, WILLIAM LAMBDIN (1848–1905). William Lambdin (Colonel) Prather, lawyer and university president, was born near Paris, Tennessee, on May 1, 1848, the son of George W. and Lucretia P. (Lambdin) Prather. In 1854 he moved with his family to Texas, where his father acquired a large plantation near Waco. In 1867 his father sent him to study under Gen. Robert E. Lee at Washington College, Lexington, Virginia, where Prather received an LL.B. degree in 1871. Prather was a pallbearer at Lee's funeral in 1870. He was admitted to the bar in Waco, Texas, in 1871 and practiced there for twenty-eight years. From 1875 to 1878 he was Waco city attorney. For three years he was a master in chancery for the Houston and Texas Central Railroad. For the term 1895–96 he was president of the state bar association.

Prather's connection with the University of Texas began with his appointment as regent by Governor Lawrence Sullivan Ross in 1887. Prather became vice chairman of the board in 1895 and chairman in 1899. He was made acting president of the university in 1899 and president in 1900. Washington and Lee University conferred an LL.D degree on him in 1900, and the University of Pennsylvania, in 1901. He was vice president of the National Educational Association in 1903–04 and vice president of the Association of State Universities in 1904–05. He had the highest of ideals for the university and gave himself wholeheartedly to carrying them out-so much so that he overtaxed himself with details that he might have entrusted to others. He thought that the president should promote the university, that the university should serve the state, and that the students should remember that the state looked to them for leadership. His reminder "The Eyes of Texas are upon you" gave rise to the university song.

On February 3, 1875, Prather married Frances H. Kirkpatrick, and they had five children. He died of heart failure on July 24, 1905.

Austin Statesman, July 2, 1905. A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, William James Battle, "PRATHER, WILLIAM LAMBDIN," accessed July 12, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpr02.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...