Julia Breck: Ahead Of Her Time

Julia Breck, a local club women and outspoken community leader, ran for mayor of El Paso in 1961. She was the first women to run for that position and the first women to run for any city office in decades. She had little money and organization but Breck was no token candidate, she give the city male dominated establishment a scare almost doing the impossible, winning. Political observers called her a dark horse because she forced the assumed front runner, alderman Ralph Setisinger, into a runoff and campaigned vigorously and aggressively narrowly losing to Setisinger. Breck almost became the first woman mayor of El Paso and the first women mayor of a major Texas city.

Julia Spaulding North was born on October 2, 1910 in El Paso, Texas to Clarence North and wife, Ruth Spaulding. Mr. North was prominent in the southwest supply business. He headed the conversion of horses to motor vehicle during World War II and received a colonel’s commission in Pershing’s army after aiding him on his chase after Pancho Villa’s army in the early 19th century. In 1904 he married Ruth Spaulding, who like her daughter, was active in the community. Mrs. Breck was a 2nd generation El Pasoan on her father’s side. His parent came to El Paso from Los Cerillos, New Mexico in 1886. Mrs. Breck graduated from El Paso High School in 1928. She attended Butler University but eventually enrolled in Northwestern University graduating in 1932. That same year she married prominent orthopedic doctor Louis Merrick Breck. The couple met as teenagers at a Christian Endeavor party. The couple had 3 children.

Mrs. Breck designed her first family home on 2726 Richmond Avenue; she trained herself in architecture drawing and was active in the Architectural Committee in the El Paso Women’s Chamber of Commerce. She also did drawings for the El Paso Orthopedic Group and designed and supervised renovation at her husband offices. Mrs. Breck was program chair for the Women Department of the Chamber of Commerce and served as vice chair for the women’s division of the community chest in 1957 and organized and ran the El Paso poll tax contest in 1949. She served as president of the local chapters of the American Association on Women and Pro America. Breck also served as president of the young matrons of the El Paso Women’s Club. Breck served on the Board of Managers of Thomason Hospital and was elected to the City Charter Commission in 1952. Mrs. Breck was a conservative who campaigned for republican presidential candidates, Wendell Willkie, Thomas  Dewey, Barry Goldwater, and Dwight Eisenhower. Mrs. Breck also worked for democrats  volunteering  on the Lyndon Baines Johnson campaign for senate in 1948 and was honorarily delegate to the State Democratic Convention in 1958.

Joseph Longo

EPCHS Curator

Since 1954 the El Paso County Historical Society has been a driving force in the historic scene of El Paso. EPCHS strives to foster research into the history of the El Paso area; acquire and make available to the public historic materials; publish and encourage historical writing pertaining to the area; and to develop public consciousness of our rich heritage.