The problem with writing a blog post about Mother’s Day while overseeing a collection that encompasses women in the southwest, is not how to find a mother to feature, but rather how on earth to only feature one. Both women who traveled through and settled the West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as women who initiated social and political reform in the 20th and 21st century, often did it while raising children and supporting their families.
Sarah Horton Cockrell (1819 –1892) was a Texan business woman, known for her contributions to the economic and infrastructural development of Dallas. After the death of her husband in 1858, Sarah built upon the family business and raised her five children. On the back of this identified photograph of Sarah, her son Frank M. Cockrell writes: “My mother. She was not a devotee to society, but devoted her life to her children and to her business. It was her courage and business acumen that pushed Dallas forward when water and fire had snapped its strength. In her 40th year. F.M.C.”
The first woman to study at the prestigious Munich Academy, Elisabet Ney began her career in her native Germany. After immigrating to southeast Texas in 1873 with her husband, Ney planned a break from art to maintain a 1,100-acre plantation, called Liendo, and raise her son Lorne. Ney returned to her career in the art world when she was consulted regarding sculpture for the State Capitol. Texas Governor Oran Roberts commissioned her to create two seminal sculptures, one of Sam Houston and the other of Stephen F. Austin, for the 1893 Chicago World’s fair.
The Southern Methodist University Mother’s Club was organized March 24, 1926 to promote the mental, physical, and spiritual life of students. The group established scholarship funds, beautified the campus, and hosted numerous events from teas to carnivals. This poem, Mother’s Lane, comes from a SMU Mother’s Club file located in the SMU archives. Today both the mothers and fathers of SMU students continue efforts that benefit students and student experiences on the campus.
To learn more about the fierce women who forged a path across the southwest, who launched businesses and built empires, who reformed policies and lead movements, be sure to visit the DeGolyer library and check out our books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs featuring women.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms reading this post!