Lightsey Farms: A family tradition

By Roxanne McKnight
Staff Writer

Giving up a teaching career to be a farmer may be unusual, but for two Mexia women, it was the perfectly natural choice – and they haven’t looked back.

Mary and Lisa Lightsey grew up the only children of their farmer father, so they learned everything they needed to know about farming helping out their dad all those years.

They each became teachers and taught school, Mary Lightsey for 10 years of economics, history, government and English as a second language, and Lisa Lightsey Haddon for 14 years of kindergarten, first grade special education and English as a second language. But they never stopped helping in the family business – Lightsey Farms.

The sisters’ grandfather, Eire Elijah Lightsey, started Lightsey Farms in 1918 with help from his wife, Mary Ellen. Before moving to the current location south of Mexia, he had lived in Willis. He began the Mexia farm by growing cotton, but then switched to growing peaches.

“He found out he could have a failure every four years with peaches (and survive economically), so he quit cotton,” said Sudie Winkler, daughter of Eire Elijah Lightsey and aunt to the farming sisters. Winkler has land and a home adjacent to Lightsey Farms and is a frequent visitor to the main home of the Lightsey clan, where the sisters’ mother, Fairy Nell Lightsey, still lives.