A Celebration of Women History Month by Joseph Longo
Farrington and her library board of directors wanted to fulfill the dream of Maud Sullivan, which was to build a new library downtown to replace the dilapidated Carnegie building. Farrington was also very much interested in southwest architecture and wanted the new building to show that influence. Farrington sought prominent librarian architect, Alfred M Gitciens,while they were both attending a Architecture Institute in Chicago. Gitciens came to El Paso and did the survey for the city in 1947.
Farrington also campaigned vigorously for a passage of bond to pay for the new building and other library services such as a book mobile. Farrington campaigned from her hospital bed, after breaking her legs. The bond passed and the Library moved into the new building. Parts of the old building still exists today and along with a new addition, it still serves as the home of the El Paso Main Library. Farrington also served as president of the Southwest and American Library Association. Farrington also conducted historical research for scholars and researchers. Farrington retired in 1955 and married Fredrick Kister and died in 1964 in Lafayette, Arkansas.
n 1962 Lydia Malernee Stark, a retired speech teacher, ran as a Republican for County Superintendent of Schools against John T. Bean. Stark ran on one platform: to abolish the office she was running for. She ran as a Republican in a strong Democratic county. No Republican had been elected countywide since Alfred Sharpe of Clint was elected state representative in 1904.
Photo Credit :El Paso Historical Society
only woman to be sworn to a countywide office in 1963.
Photo Credit: ,El Paso Herald Post Historical Files M.S. 348 UTEP Special Collections.
Stark was able to get the needed 8,000 signatures to put the issue of abolishing the office of County School Superintendent on the ballot. This inspired the County Judge to talk to his friend, Texas Governor John Connally, and force through legislation, authored by Maud Issacks, that then went to the House floor for a vote. On February 13, 1963, the office was abolished. Stark put a sign on her office door stating, “Office closed, I have kept my promise.”
Photo Credit: El Paso Times
Karma Deane was a prominent and well known dancer and instructor in El Paso and throughout the country until her death here in 1959. Deane was born in Waco, Deane came to El Paso at a young age with her mother, Maud in the 1930s. Maud worked with W.W. Westrup in his photography studio and later Deane adopted his daughter,Laurita Westrup who was also a well known dance instructor. Deane studied under some well known dance instructors. Deane studied under Theodore Kolsoff in Hollywood,California and Dolph Bolm of the Russian Imperial School of Dancing. Deanw also trained with Micheal Fokin of New York City,Angel Cansino of New York. Deane also was taught by Edward Cansino,father of actress and one time princess, Rita Hayworth.Deane was one of the founders of the Fortnighley Club,a dance group.
El Paso Public Library,BHS
El Paso Public Library,BHS
El Paso Public Library,BHS
Deane and her Laurita,both ran the studio,with several instructors,they taught in Fort Hancock,Fabens,Ysleta,Alamogordo,Truth or Consequences,Hot Springs, and Carlsbad. Deane also use to put a annual ballet program on at Liberty Hall. Deane also accompanied one of her student,Bessie Petersen,who won a Hollywood contest,the prize was a studio contract to Hollywood and got to meet Bing Crosby
Myrtle Render Cooper was the first woman superintendent of the Socorro school district in 1961 before she served as principal of the old Socorro grade school for 20 years. Cooper was born in Oklahoma, her father operated the old Ysleta Cotton Gin. Cooper came to El Paso in 1927, teaching at the Ysleta Grade School, there she met and married Forrest Cooper, who was also a teacher at the school. Cooper went on to serve as the associate superintendent of Ysleta Independent school district.
The Coopers had two sons; Joe and Forrest Jr. Cooper returned to teaching in 1939, teaching at Socorro Grade school, now Silverio Escontrias Pre-K on Buford. Then in 1943 she became principal. Socorro was then a common school district under County Superintendent of Schools, John Bean. Cooper was the only woman principal in the Socorro common school district.
Cooper developed a strong relationship with her staff, students,and their families. Cooper even helped some of her students find a job after graduation. At the time, Socorro schools started with kindergarten and ended at the eighth grade. Then students would attend Clint or Ysleta High Schools. Under Cooper, there was the construction of an auditorium,cafeteria, and additional classrooms, before the school had no cafeteria. The old principal’s cottage was converted into the homemaking cottage.
In 1950, the longtime teacher, Dorothy Woodley was appointed the school first assistant principal. In 1959 the school published it first school annual. In 1961, when Socorro residents voted to become an independent school district, Cooper continued to act as principal but also served as superintendent of schools until 1962. She continued as the principal under the next superintendent, L.M Curlee until her retirement in 1962. Cooper was a accomplished golf and tennis player. In 1987 an elementary school in SISD was named in her honor. Cooper died in El Paso in 1991.
El Paso Times
During the great depression Mary Chrystyne Bower was in danger of losing her ranch but then she got a call from Radford School for Girls asking her to teach their students how to ride a horse. Bower established the Bower Riding school. The ranch is now known as Poki Roni, on North Loop and Yarbrough, and the tradition was continued for many years by her daughters. One of her daughters, Patricia Kirchner, continued the riding school until her death in 2006. Patrica was also a talented musician and music teacher.
Photo Credit: El Paso Times
Mary Chrystyne Hoxie was born on a farm in Williamson County, Texas. Her father, Mortimer’s uncle, John Hoxie a railroad magnate from Chicago, purchased 9,000 acres of ranch land in Williamson and built a house which was called “Hoxie House.” He also founded a settlement nearby which was named Hoxie. Since John was living in Chicago, Mortimer helped developed the ranches, imported new breeds of horses, and experimented with irrigation techniques. He served as mayor of nearby Taylor, Texas. The estate was broken up in 1910. Hoxie House burned down in 1934. The Hoxie community started to decline because of drought. These hardships caused the Hoxie family to leave the area. In Electra, Texas Mary’s mother, Mary Anna Mitchell, made a comeback and founded a store there. Mary Chrystyne came to El Paso, probably in 1914, and decided to stay. She lived with her sister on North Oregon street. Her family soon followed her and they established their own residence called “Hoxie Villa” which was somewhere in the Lower Valley. She married James Frazier in 1919 who died of pneumonia in an Army training camp in Kentucky. Mary came back to El Paso and found herself working at a gas station in Ysleta and then married Frank Bower who ran his own grocery store. Bower Road, near Poki Roni, was named in his honor. The Bowers had two daughters, June and Patricia. Patricia and June Became fine ridding instructors and riders themselves. Mr. Bower was also Deputy El Paso County Tax Collector for many years. Over the years the horse riding school expanded and included students from allover the country. Mrs. Bower is also remembered for her activism, making sure all animals were treated humanely. She served on the Board of the local Humane Society for many years. Bower also founded a youth patrol that went out in the desert and rescued animals. Mrs. Bower did an oral history for UTEP and died in 1973. In 1974 a memorial fund was set up in her honor. Bower was also a founding member of the Ysleta Woman’s Club in 1921.
Sue Turner hosted a local television cooking show and founded the El Paso Border Partol Museum.
Photo Credit: El Paso Times
Another prominent horse woman was Sheri Amstater. Amstater was a well-known horse instructor and ran stables and a horse riding school on her and her husband ranch called “El Dorado” in the Upper Valley. Amstater was publicity chair for the El Paso Horse and Driving club. Amstater was a native of California. She attended a private school in Los Angeles that offered horse riding . Armstater bought her first horse named “Kathie” a saddled bred for $500, she was able to get the horse at cheaper rate, because the horse was sick ,but was later offered $4,500 for the same horse ,because the horse won the state juvenile five gaited championships. Armstater studied art in Los Angeles. She was a member of the board of the El Paso Public Library and worked to get more art displayed from different artists. She also studied architecture. El Dorado was more then 80 acres with 35 horses, with different breeds that included America Saddle breds, Morgans, Arabians, and Quarter horses. In 1975 El Dorado entered 22 show horses in the New Mexico State fair held inAlbuquerque and took home 69 ribbons. El Dorado also completed at the Phoenix A to Z, Dallas State Fair and was invited to the Iowa State fair. Armstater was once reprimanded for keeping 13 horses at her home across from the El Paso County Club. She later moved out of the city limits to the Upper Valley where she and her husband Joe started “ El Dorado”
Amstater was a member of the Shandor Equestrian Team of El Paso, founded by Juan Munoz and his wife, Dorothy. They created the organization with 12 men and women to perform “Quadrille” and they would frequently perform at the Sunland Park Race Track.
credit: El Paso Times
Anna Butterfield Newman was born and rasied in Knob Knoster, Missouri in 1881 to Maurice and Luvina Butterfield. Newman first came to El Paso in 1902 and believed have met her husband,Charles Moorehead Newman on the Newman Family Ranch in Northeast El Paso. The Newman was a prominent farming family and land developers in El Paso.
Charles developed a residential area across Newman Park . They lived on 2001 Altura in Central El Paso and they had one son,Charles M. Jr. The Newman’s married in 1919. Charles Sr. died in 1941.
Anna help organized “Bundles for Britain” during WWII at the Turney Home at 1205 Montana,which in 1947 became the home of the El Paso International Art Museum. Charles Sr. was a organizer of the museum and served as the first president of the El Paso International Art Museum Association ,which was granted a charter by the state in 1930. The Turney Home came in possession of the association in 1945,but did not open until 1945. In 1947, Anna was appointed the first curator .
As curator, she was credited for help to organize the museum,acquiring artifacts and planning exhibits,when the museum had no existing funds. Anna organized monthly programs at the museum and put on dinners and invited people interested in promoting and being involved in the museum.
Newman helped build the museum to serve as a cultural center in El Paso. In 1957, Anna and a maid was tied up in the museum,when a young man broke in the museum and took several items of value. However Anna continued her work until her death in 1959. Mrs Robert R. Bowie was her assistant.
Newman was a descendant of John Butterfield , the name stake for the Butterfield Wagon Trail route.
Ruth Dent married Ermon E. Missik in Missouri and came to El Paso in the late forties. Missk and her Husband built their own horse stable at 8634 Homsley Trail in the lower valley. Missks trained horses, raised horses and enter horse into contests. The Missks dug the foundation for the stable ,while a contractor built an adobe building. The design was to be an L Shaped ranch style and had two Dutch doors at the entrance. Ruth later remarried to William Cunluffle . She became a noted horse riding instructor. In 1974, one of her students, Camille Whitefield won honors at the World Championship Horse Show held at the Kentucky State fair. Ruth completed in various horse shows and other equestrian events around the county. She was not just noted for her horsemanship in El Paso, but all over the southwest. In 1944 she moved to El Paso, when the El Paso Riding and Driving Club was just in early stages, Ruth was a member of one of the first board of directors. She completed in the first El Paso Horse Showi n 1944, winning first place in the five-gaited horse category winning, ridding a black mare named “Dixie” belonging to Dr. L.M. Smith. In 1953, Ruth won first place in the five-gaited horse in she also won awards in Horse shows in Albuquerque, Dallas, Fort Worth, Tulsa, Roswell and Santa Fe. Ruth along with Lorena Bowen were the first sponsor of the El Paso Junior Ridding and Driving Club. Ruth also helped organized the Sunland Paraders, who won the best junior mounted group in the Southwestern Championship Rodeo for four years in a row. Ruth was the first El Paso woman Roadster to have driven El Paso Horse Shows. Roadster is a a kind of driving competition for horses . The horse and rider appear in equipment similar to that used in harness racing, where the rider is in a two wheeled chair called the “Sulky”. The cart is pulled by the horse
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
credit: Carolyn Breck
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.
Elfrida Perez Chavez Romero served on the Socorro Board from 1962 to 1975. Chavez served as board secretary and helped came up with Socorro High School Mascot,, the Bulldogs. Chavez Romero also worked for the U.S. Veteran Administrations.
Credit: El Paso Times.
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.