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Suffragist leads the way in Harris County


On this day in 1918, Hortense Sparks Ward became the first woman in Harris County history to register to vote. Born in Matagorda County in 1872, she married Houston lawyer William Henry Ward in 1908. In 1910 she became the first woman admitted to the Texas state bar. Ward worked tirelessly in support of women’s rights and penned moving newspaper essays and pamphlets for that cause. She was instrumental in the passage of the Married Woman’s Property Law of 1913 by the Texas Legislature, and she campaigned with suffragist Minnie Fisher Cunningham for enfranchisement. Texas women won an important victory in 1918 when the legislature permitted them to vote in primary elections. In a short span of less than three weeks, 386,000 women across the state registered to vote, and Hortense Ward led the way.

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