"The Lone Star State Surrenders to a Lone
Woman": Frances Willard's Forgotten 882 Texas
JAMES D. IvY*
T EXAS WAS WET WHEN FRANCES WILLARD LEFT TEXARKANA EN ROUTE
to Marshall on February 3, 1882. The town of Denison recorded
over three-and-a-half inches of rain the previous month. More than
eight inches had fallen on Galveston. With her companion and personal
secretary, Anna Gordon, Willard had been on the road for several
weeks, stirring up support for the temperance cause, braving the early
spring rains. Leaving Little Rock, Arkansas, they had crossed into Texas
over the swollen Sabine River on a Texas and Pacific railroad bridge that
would be destroyed by flood waters a week later.2
Willard had served as president of the Woman's Christian Temper-
ance Union since she had defeated incumbent Annie Wittenmyer by a
large majority at the 1879 convention. Even before her election pro-
pelled her into the national spotlight as the leader of the largest
women's organization in America, Willard had been an important figure
in reform circles. She had been president of the North Western Female
College at Evanston, had won a wide reputation as a speaker and as a
member of the staff of evangelist Dwight L. Moody, and had served as
president of the Illinois W.C.T.U. and corresponding secretary for the
national Union. Her tireless efforts and constant travel had been signifi-
cant factors in a dramatic increase in the Union's membership rolls;
* James Ivy is a Ph.D. candidate in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University.
He is writing his dissertation on the prohibition movement in Texas.
'Joseph E. Roy, "Miss Willard in Texas," The Independent (New York). Woman's Christian Tem-
perance Union National Headquarters Historical Files (joint Ohio Historical Society-Michigan
Historical Collections), Temperance and Prohibition Papers, microfilm edition, W.C.T.U. series
(cited hereafter as W.C.T.U. series), reel 3o, scrapbook 7; reprinted in the Union Signal (Chica-
go), Mar. 23, 1882. An earlier version of this essay was presented at the Mid-Amenca Confer-
ence in History at Topeka, Kan., Sept. 1996. I am indebted to Prof. Virginia Laas of the Dept. of
History at Missouri Southern College and the other panelists for their comments, and to Prof.
Char Miller of Trinity University for reading two earlier drafts of this essay.
2 U.S. War Dept., Signal Service, Monthly Meteorological Reports, Denison, Galveston, Jan.
1882, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin., National Environ-
mental Satelllite, Data and Information Service (National Climatic Center, Asheville, N.C.)
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed July 31, 2015.