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.
On this day in 1874, a party of about 700 Plains Indians, mostly Cheyenne, Comanches, and Kiowas, attacked a buffalo hunters' camp about a mile from the ruins known as Adobe Walls (the scene of a previous encounter between Indians and U.S. troops), in what is now Hutchinson County. The battle and the siege that followed became known as the Second Battle of Adobe Walls. The defenders, twenty-eight men and one woman, gathered in three buildings and repelled the initial charge with a loss of only two men. The Indians continued the siege for four or five days, but, when hunters came to the assistance of the camp, gave up the fight. During the siege, in one of the most famous feats of marksmanship of the Indian wars, William (Billy) Dixon is reported to have shot an Indian off his horse from a distance of seventh-eighths of a mile. The larger significance of this fight is that it led to the Red River War of 1874-75, which resulted in the final relocation of the Southern Plains Indians to reservations in Indian Territory.
On this day in 1878, Roy Bedichek was born in Cass County, Illinois. In 1884 he moved with his family to Falls County, Texas. Bedichek received a B.S. (and later an M.A.) degree from the University of Texas, where he worked in the office of registrar John A. Lomax, who became a lifelong friend. After working primarily as a journalist and teacher for several years in Houston, Fort Worth, San Angelo, and New Mexico, he returned to Austin in 1913 and four years later began work with the University Interscholastic League, from which he eventually retired as director in 1948. Bedichek was a dedicated outdoorsman and student of wildlife, especially birds. Urged by his close friends J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb, he took a leave of absence for a year beginning in February 1946 and went into seclusion at Webb's Friday Mountain Ranch to write the classic Adventures with a Texas Naturalist (1947). He published two other books, including Karánkaway Country (1950), during his lifetime; a fourth book appeared posthumously. Bedichek died in 1959.