Portraits of Texas Governors

The Politics of Personality Part 1, 1915-1927

James E. Ferguson

Pa Ferguson

January 19, 1915 - August 25, 1917

Link - Pro Ferguson material

Campaign material supporting Ferguson



Born: August 31, 1871 near Salado, Bell County, Texas

Early career: Ferguson's father died in 1876, and as soon as Ferguson was able, he helped out on the family's farm. He entered Salado College at 14, attending for two years. For the next two years, Ferguson worked his way west, taking a variety of jobs. He returned to Texas and worked on the railroads until 1895 when he began studying law. Ferguson was admitted to the bar in 1897 and began his practice in Belton. He developed interests in real estate, insurance, banking, and politics. In 1914 he won the governorship and was reelected in 1916.

Accomplishments: During his first term, legislation regarding state aid to rural schools, the establishment of the Austin State School, college building programs, and large appropriations for education were passed.

During Ferguson's second term in office, a quarrel with the University of Texas administration grew into a controversy. Resultant charges against him precipitated impeachment proceedings. The Senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, by the vote of 25 to 3, convicted Ferguson on ten charges, which included the misapplication of public funds, and failing to respect and enforce the banking laws of the state. Although he resigned on August 25, 1917, the day before the judgment was announced, the court of impeachment's judgment was sustained, preventing Ferguson from holding public office in Texas.

Later years: Ferguson continued to be politically active. In 1924 and 1932 he conducted the successful campaigns of his wife for the governorship. Ferguson married Miriam Amanda Wallace on December 31, 1899, and they had two daughters. He died on September 21, 1944.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor James E. Ferguson


Link - Anti Ferguson material

Campaign material opposing Ferguson



Einstein presents theory of relativity

D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation

The Perils of Pauline

Chaplin's The Tramp

Margaret Sanger jailed for proposing birth control

Battle of the Somme

Sinking of the Lusitania

Ku Klux Klan revived in Georgia

Tommy gun invented

1916 Pancho Villa stages murderous raids along border; U.S. sends 6000 troops

U.S. and Mexico submit to arbitration

U.S. enters World War I

Russian Revolution

Women's suffrage movement becomes militant

Morton's "Jelly Roll Blues"

Cohan's "Over There"

Jun 21 1917 Humble Oil company (Exxon) incorporated

4.8 million cars in the U.S.

Aug 5 1917 Goose Creek Oil Field strikes it big

Aug 23 1917 Camp Logan race riot in Houston

William Pettus Hobby

William P. Hobby, Sr.

August 25, 1917 - January 18, 1921

Link - Letter on prohibition

Letter from Hobby to Martin McNulty Crane on the prohibition issue



Born: March 26, 1878 at Moscow, Polk County, Texas

Early Career: In 1892 Hobby's family moved to Houston. Later, Hobby quit high school to take a job with the circulation department of the Houston Post, and eventually was promoted to managing editor. In 1904 Hobby helped organize the Young Men's Democratic Club, and was its first president. He attended the 1904 Democratic state convention as chairman of the delegation for the Sixteenth Congressional District, and later became secretary of the State Democratic Executive Committee. In 1907 Hobby moved to Beaumont to become editor and proprietor of the Beaumont Enterprise. He was selected president of the Chamber of Commerce in February 1912.

Hobby was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 and reelected in 1916. He became acting governor on August 25, 1917 and governor on September 25, 1917, when James Ferguson resigned.

Accomplishments: While filling Ferguson's term, Hobby agreed to the proposal allowing women to vote during the primary, and supported legislation banning alcohol sales within ten miles of military installations. Hobby was elected governor in 1918, and supported a generous appropriation for education, state assistance in obtaining home loans, and tax levies on oil and gas products. The Eighteenth Amendment regarding prohibition was passed by the legislature and approved by the voters while Hobby was in office.

Later years: Hobby married Willie Cooper of Beaumont on May 15, 1915 at New Orleans; she died in 1929. Hobby married Oveta Culp on February 23, 1931. Two children were born to this marriage: William Pettus Hobby, Jr., who was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1972, and Jessica Oveta. Hobby died on June 7, 1964 in Houston.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor William Pettus Hobby

Link - Letter on women's suffrage

Letter from Hobby to his father-in-law on women's suffrage


Oct 21 1917 "Roaring Ranger" oil field discovered in West Texas

Civil War in Russia

Feb 28 1918 Texas ratifies Prohibition

Mar 1918 Women win right to vote in Texas

Worldwide influenza epidemic kills 500,000 Americans, 20 million worldwide

Flying aces become heroes


Allied offensive breaks German line

Nov 11 1918 World War I ends; 5.1 million dead, 126,000 Americans

Father Divine and Marcus Garvey attract millions of African American followers

Nov 1919 Texas voters pass prohibition amendment

"Red Menace" scare leads to hundreds of arrests

1920 Large-scale irrigation begins in High Plains

Lofting's The Story of Dr. Doolittle

Sandburg's Smoke and Steel

19th Amendment gives the vote to women nationwide

Chicago "Black Sox" baseball scandal

Adolf Hitler founds Nazi Party in Germany

Radio broadcasting begins


Pat Morris Neff

Pat Neff

January 18, 1921 - January 20, 1925

Link - Telegram from Harding

Telegram from President Harding on Citizen's Military Training Camp




Born November 26, 1871, near McGregor, Texas

Early Career: Neff worked on his father's farm and ranch, attended a country school when time would allow, and then went to McGregor High School. Neff graduated from Baylor University in 1894. He taught school in Arkansas for two years and then entered the University of Texas Law School, receiving a degree in 1897. Neff began practicing law at Waco in 1897 while pursuing a Master of Arts degree at Baylor University. He was McLennan County representative from 1899 to 1905, and was speaker of the house for the 28th Legislature. From 1906 to 1912, Neff was prosecuting attorney of McLennan County. From 1912 to 1919, he practiced law in Waco and worked on civic, religious, and educational projects.

Accomplishments: In 1920 and 1922 Neff won the gubernatorial elections. The first day Neff was in office, he abolished the Board of Pardon Advisors. He called for economy in government, lower taxes, and improved education. Although he had problems with the legislature, he worked for sizable appropriations for conservation, helped develop a State Parks Board, and recommended the creation of a State Historical Board. During his administration Neff also helped develop medical facilities, including the American Legion Hospital, and advanced education in rural areas.

Later years: When Neff completed his service as governor, he resumed his law practice in Waco. President Calvin Coolidge appointed Neff to the United States Board of Mediation (1927-1929). In 1929, Governor Dan Moody asked Neff to be chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. He was replaced as chairman in 1931, but remained a member of the Railroad Commission until 1932, when he became president of Baylor University. He served in that post from from 1932 to 1947. Neff married Myrtie Mainer on May 31, 1899 at Lovelady, Texas. They had two children. Pat Neff died on January 19, 1952.

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Pat Morris Neff

View Photographs of Governor Pat Morris Neff


Link - Message on parks system

Message to the legislature on establishing the park system



Mass industry layoffs; average work day 12-14 hours

Reader's Digest begins publication

Sacco and Vanzetti trial

Knee-length skirts become the fashion

USSR established

King Tut's tomb discovered in Egypt

13.3 million automobiles in U.S.


Mar 22 1922 Oil well blowout preventer invented

Time magazine begins publication

Salten's Bambi

May 28 1923 Santa Rita No. 1 struck, brings vast fortune to University of Texas

July 30 1923 Last legal public hanging in Texas

Teapot Dome scandal


Mar 14 1924 Charles Lindbergh begins pilot training in San Antonio

Bootlegging leads to rise of the gangsters

Leopold and Loeb "thrill killing" trial

2.5 million radios in U.S.

Ku Klux Klan gains political power across South and Midwest


Miriam A. Ferguson

Ma Ferguson

January 20, 1925 - January 17, 1927

Link - Pardon by Mrs. Ferguson

A pardon by Governor Ferguson






Born: Miriam Amanda Wallace was born in Bell County in 1875.

Early Career: Miriam Wallace attended Salado College and Baylor Female College. In 1899 she married James E. Ferguson, with whom she had two daughters. Her political involvement was minor during her husband's terms in office (1915-1917). But in 1924, after "Pa" Ferguson was denied a place on the ballot, "Ma" Ferguson announced her own candidacy. Her campaign, under the slogan "Two governors for the price of one," was fiscally conservative, anti-Klan, anti-prohibition, and aimed at the vindication of James Ferguson's reputation. Ferguson was the first woman to be elected state governor, but the second woman governor to be inaugurated (after Wyoming's Nellie T. Ross) in the United States.

Accomplishments: Her first administration was noted for the unusually large number of pardons granted (averaging one hundred per month), the prohibiting of wearing masks in public (aimed at the Ku Klux Klan), and the frequent charges that she was open to graft and corruption. In 1926 she was defeated in the primary by Dan Moody.

Miriam Ferguson became governor again in 1933, January 17, 1933 - January 15, 1935

Handbook of Texas article about Governor Miriam A. Ferguson

View Photographs of Governor Miriam A. Ferguson

Link - Child Health proclamation

Proclamation of "Child Health Day"



1925 Texas Technological College (later Texas Tech University) opens in Lubbock

Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

Scopes "monkey" trial in Tennessee

The "Charleston" is popular dance

Crossword puzzles become popular

Hitler publishes Mein Kampf

Chaplin's The Gold Rush

Richard Byrd flies over the North Pole

Chiang Kai-shek leads reunification movement in China

Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

Georgia O'Keefe's Black Iris

Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me"

Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh

NBC founded

First liquid-fueled rocket

Gertrude Ederle swims the English Channel

<< Back - Texas Rising Part 2, 1903-1915  |  Continue - The Politics of Personality Part 2, 1927-1939 >>  



Page last modified: June 29, 2022