From The Standard Sentinel in Oklahoma: “Five Thousand Women to Bring One Man Around”. Nonie Mahoney’s enormous petition drive garnered media attention in Texas and beyond.
Nonie Boren Mahoney
Born: 1868 in Tyler, TX
Died: 1926 in Forney, TX
Noted For: Nonie Mahoney is noted as the president of the Dallas Equal Suffrage Association and the first president of the Dallas League of Women Voters, as well as the organizer of a historic Dallas petition drive that collected 10,000 signatures in support of votes for women.
In 1918, Dallas suffrage leader Nonie Mahoney had one thing at the top of her mind: the successful passage of a bill granting Texas women the right to vote for the first time ever in the state’s upcoming primary election.
As the wife of a politician and the organizer of two state suffrage conventions, Nonie probably had a pretty solid understanding of how the system worked. So it’s no surprise that she trained her attention on winning over a vocal suffrage opponent operating right in her own back yard—state legislator Barry Miller, who represented Dallas County.
Nonie decided to take a stab at converting Miller. During a meeting at his office, Miller remained less than enthusiastic about suffrage, but he issued Nonie a challenge: If she could bring him 5,000 signatures from Dallas women who supported suffrage, he would vote for the primary suffrage bill.
Nonie got to work immediately, organizing volunteers to canvas women from all walks of life in neighborhoods across Miller’s district, seeking their signatures of support. Within a few days, she delivered 10,000 signatures to a shocked Miller—twice the amount he had asked for. In response, he kept his word and delivered his constituents a “yes” vote, and the primary suffrage bill was signed into law by Governor Hobby on March 26. Miller was so thoroughly converted, in fact, that he went on to chair the state legislative caucus for women’s suffrage.
After the passage of the 19th Amendment, Nonie continued her involvement in women’s politics, serving as the chair of the state Democratic Executive Committee and leading the Texas delegation to the 1924 National Democratic Convention in New York. She was also the only woman in Texas to preside at a precinct convention for the 1920 presidential election convention.
“We are going to win. There is no chance for us to fail.”—Nonie B Mahoney, 1918.