Historical female leaders

March 11, 2015
Lamia Bazir Niamey
Bessie Coleman
  • Dona Patricia de la Garza de Leon (1775 – 1849)

Dona Patricia de la Garza de Leon, along with her husband, founded Victoria in 1824. The couple came to Texas from Mexico after securing a large land grant in South Texas. Using her $10, 000 dowry, the couple developed the land for ranching and amassed a large fortune. She also gave $500 in gold, a huge tract of land and priceless furnishings to the first church in Victoria, now St. Mary's Catholic Church. After Texas independence, anti-Mexican sentiment forced her and her family to flee the country. She returned in 1844 to find all their possessions stolen, and she lived quite humbly from then until her death. (audio)

  • Sarah Horton Cockrell (1819 – 1892)

Sarah Cockrell was a businesswoman who built the first iron bridge over the Trinity River at Dallas in 1872. She also built Dallas' first three-story hotel and owned most of what is now Dallas' central business district. Left a widow with small children in 1858, all she had was a stack of debts and her husband's ferry business. She thought big and invested wisely. She set up her own corporations, the Dallas Bridge Company, and the S. H. Cockrell Co., which owned a flour mill. When she died in 1892, her properties were so extensive that her will had to be published in pamphlet form. (audio)

  • Mary Ann (Molly) Dyer Goodnight (1839 – 1926)

The nearest neighbors were 75 miles away when Molly Goodnight established the first ranch household in the Texas Panhandle in 1877. Backed by Cornelia and John Adair, Molly and her husband Charles co-founded the famous JA Ranch in Palo Duro Canyon, three years after the last Comanches in Texas were driven from the area.

Juanita CraftGoodnight gave parties for the cowboys, taught them to read, and patched their clothes. In the early ranch years, she was so lonely that once she made pets out of three chickens a cowboy had brought her to cook for Sunday dinner. She also rescued orphaned buffaloes, establishing a buffalo herd and a Cattalo herd crossbred with range cattle. She had her own cattle brand, the Flying T. In 1898, she helped establish Goodnight College.

  • Lizzie Johnson (1840 – 1924)

Lizzie Johnson, the "Cattle Queen of Texas, " was an early and highly successful investor in the Texas cattle business. After the Civil War, she rounded up stray cattle, branded them, and drove them north. She was one of the first women to drive cattle up the Chisholm Trail. An innovator in private life as well, Lizzie Johnson kept her business property separate from that of her husband. A worker in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, she also was a pioneer in prison reform. She died leaving diamonds hidden in her room and property all over Central Texas. (audio)

  • Henrietta King (1832 – 1925)

Minnie Fisher CunninghamAs the wife of the founder of the most famous ranch in the world, the King Ranch in South Texas, Henrietta King frequently was in charge of the ranch and defended it from Indians and bandits while her husband was away. After his death in 1885, she was sole owner of the ranch for 40 years. She oversaw the management of the huge operation, along with her son-in-law, R. J. Kleberg, Sr. Mrs. King gave money and land to establish the city of Kingsville and was particularly instrumental in setting up churches all over South Texas because of her land donations and financial support.

  • Elisabet Ney (1833 – 1907)

A renowned sculptor from Bavaria, Elisabet Ney moved to Texas with her husband in 1872. Her unconventional lifestyle and progressive ideas made her a controversial figure. She secured a commission to create statues of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. The two statues now stand respectively, in the capitols in Austin and Washington, D.C. Another of Ney's works, a statue of General Albert Sidney Johnston, is in the State Cemetery. She became an outspoken advocate of the teaching of fine arts in the state's schools and was instrumental in the founding of the Texas Fine Arts Association. Her home in Austin is one of the oldest active museums in the state. (audio)

  • Cynthia Ann Parker (1825? – 1871?)

When she was nine or ten years old, Cynthia Ann Parker lived in a fort built by her family in Limestone County. In May 1836, she was one of five people captured in a Comanche raid. The others were released, but she was not. She stayed with the tribe and eventually married the warrior Peta Nocona, with whom she had three children.

In the mid 1840s, she refused an invitation to return to her white family, stating that she loved her husband and children. In 1860, Parker, now known as Naduah, was one of three Comanches captured by Texas Rangers, along with her infant daughter Topsannah (Prairie Flower). In 1861, the legislature granted her an annual pension of $100 for five years and a league of land and appointed her uncles as guardians.

She had lived as a Comanche for almost 25 years and tried several times to return to her tribe. When Topsannah died, Cynthia Ann slashed herself in mourning and is said to have grieved to death. Her son Quanah Parker led 700 Comanches in the battle of Palo Duro Canyon in 1874, the last major battle of the Comanche tribe before they were exiled to Oklahoma reservations.

Source: www.womenintexashistory.org
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