Nona (Nonie) Mahoney, a Dallas Trailblazer in the Woman Suffrage Movement

Nona (Nonie) Mahoney, a Dallas Trailblazer in the Woman Suffrage Movement

Nonie Mahoney was a Dallas-area activist and leader within the woman suffrage movement during the early part of the 20th century. She was instrumental in securing support for a Texas primary woman suffrage bill signed into law by Governor William P. Hobby on March 26, 1918. Mahoney was Vice President of the Dallas Equal Suffrage Association (DESA) that year[1] and President the following year.[2]  She was also the first President of the Dallas League of Women Voters in 1920,[3] the same year that all women in the United States achieved the right to vote with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.[4]

Nonie Mahoney was born as Nona Boren in 1868, to Benjamin N. and Sue (nee McKeller) Boren. The Boren’s were a prominent Texas family with deep Texas roots. Mahoney’s father, Benjamin N. Boren, served as a Major in the Confederate Army and her grandfather, Samuel Hampson Boren, fought in the Texas Revolution against Mexico. Mahoney’s grandmother, Mary Moore Dickson, reportedly molded bullets to help settlers during the Indians raids.[5] The oldest of seven children, Mahoney moved with her family several times before settling in Dallas in 1885.[6] She married Senator Joseph P. Mahoney, a Democratic leader in the Illinois State Senate, in 1899,[7] and the couple later had a son.[8]

Organizing for woman suffrage began in Texas in the late 19th century and early 20th century. In 1903, a state chapter for the National Woman Suffrage Association was established. Organizing gained momentum around 1912 when activists formed suffrage clubs across the state. Although early efforts to pass suffrage legislation failed, pressure on state legislators was building. Dallas served as the host city for the Texas Woman Suffrage Association (later known as Texas Equal Suffrage Association) annual convention in 1914 and 1916.[9]

After years of effort, 1918 was a turning point for Texas suffragists. When a primary suffrage bill was scheduled for a vote in the Texas legislature, they organized a campaign focused on winning the support of legislators unlikely to vote favorably. Mahoney personally focused her attention on a particularly vocal opponent, Representative Barry Miller from Dallas. She visited Miller’s office, advocating for his support, where Miller responded with a halfhearted promise. He told Mahoney he would support the bill if she could secure 5000 signatures from Dallas women who agreed that the bill should pass. He grossly underestimated the level of support for suffrage in Dallas. Only a few days later, Mahoney had secured not 5000 signatures, but over 10,000 signatures and delivered them personal to Miller. True to his promise, Miller voted yes. On March 26, 1918, Governor Hobby signed the bill into law, giving women the right to vote in primary elections and at state conventions.[10] On February 5, 1919, he went a step further and signed a resolution to amend the Texas State Constitution. This amendment would have given women full voting rights, but it failed to pass.[11] The campaign for a Federal Woman Suffrage Amendment also faced fierce opposition in Texas. Even so, by June of 1919, the federal amendment passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. On June 28th, 1919, Texas became the first southern state to ratify the Amendment[12] and the Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution went into effect in August of 1920.[13]

After full woman suffrage became a reality, Mahoney remained active as a leader in the Democratic Party. For one, she chaired the state Executive Committee in 1920.[14] She also led the Texas delegation to the 1924 National Democratic Convention in New York.[15]

Mahoney and her husband were separated through many of her active suffragist years. She filed for divorce in 1922, claiming cruelty,[16] but the case ended in a mistrial.[17] Mahoney died on March 20, 1926, after a long illness.[18] She left all of her assets to her son and none to her husband.[19]

Footnotes

[1] Elizabeth York Enstam,  “A Question to be “Settled Right”: The Dallas Campaign for Woman Suffrage, 1913-1919,” Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, volume 13, number 2 (2001), 34-35. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35099/m1/32

[2] Enstam. "Mahoney, Nona Boren.” Handbook of Texas Online (Austin, TX). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmazb

[3] Enstam. "Mahoney, Nona Boren.”

[4] “Introduction.” In The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Ida. H. Harper, iii. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. http://chswg.binghamton.edu/docs/historyofwomansuffrage_vol6.pdf

[5] Enstam. "Mahoney, Nona Boren.”

[6] “Mrs. Susan Boren Dies at Sister's Home in Tyler.” Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX), April 23, 1919. https://www.geneologybank.com

[7] “Senator Mahoney to Wed.” Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield, IL), January 26, 1899: 5. https://www.geneologybank.com

[8] Enstam, Elizabeth York. "Mahoney, Nona Boren.”

[9] “Texas.” In The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Ida. H. Harper, 630-632. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. http://chswg.binghamton.edu/docs/historyofwomansuffrage_vol6.pdf

[10] Enstam, E. Y. “A Question to be “Settled Right”: The Dallas Campaign for Woman Suffrage, 1913-1919.”

[11] Enstam, Elizabeth York. "Mahoney, Nona Boren.”

[12] “Texas.” In The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Ida. H. Harper, 639-643. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. http://chswg.binghamton.edu/docs/historyofwomansuffrage_vol6.pdf

[13] “Introduction.” In The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Ida. H. Harper, iii. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. http://chswg.binghamton.edu/docs/historyofwomansuffrage_vol6.pdf

[14] Enstam, Elizabeth York. Women and the Creation of Urban Life: Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998.

[15] “Texas Delegates are Confident of Naming M’Adoo.” Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, TX), June 21, 1924. https://www.geneologybank.com

[16] “She Wouldn’t Live in Chicago.” Daily Illinois State Register (Kansas City, MO), May 30, 1922. https://www.geneologybank.com

[17] “Texas Woman Sues Husband for $20,000.” Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, TX), June 9, 1922. https://www.geneologybank.com

[18] “Mrs. Mahoney Dies at Forney: Prominent Worker for Democratic Party Succumbs.” Dallas Morning News. (Dallas, TX), March 23, 1926. http://www.historicforney.org/archive/online-archives/obituaries/nonie-boren-mahoney-obituary

[19] “Leaves All To Son.” The Austin American (Austin, TX), March 25, 1926. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/19404597/newspaper_article

 Bibliography

Enstam, Elizabeth York. “A Question to be “Settled Right,” The Dallas Campaign for Woman Suffrage, 1913-1919.” Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas volume 13, number 2 (2001), 30-38. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35099/m1/32

 Enstam, Elizabeth York. "Mahoney, Nona Boren.” Handbook of Texas Online (Austin, TX). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmazb

 Enstam, Elizabeth York. Women and the Creation of Urban Life: Dallas, Texas, 1843-1920. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998.

“Five Thousand Women to Bring One Man Around.” Miami District Daily News (Miami, OK), June 16, 1918. https://www.geneologybank.com

“Introduction.” In The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Ida. H. Harper, iii. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. http://chswg.binghamon.edu/docs/historyofwomansuffrage_vol6.pdf

 “Leaves All To Son.” The Austin American (Austin, TX), March 25, 1926. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/19404597/newspaper_article

 “Mrs. Mahoney Dies at Forney: Prominent Worker for Democratic Party Succumbs.” Dallas Morning News. (Dallas, TX), March 23, 1926. http://www.historicforney.org/archive/online-archives/obituaries/nonie-boren-mahoney-obituary

 “Mrs. Mahoney Says Husband Was Cruel.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, TX), May 25, 1922. https://www.geneologybank.com

 “Mrs. Susan Boren Dies at Sister's Home in Tyler.” Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX), April 23, 1919. https://www.geneologybank.com

 “Senator Mahoney to Wed.” Daily Illinois State Register (Springfield, IL), January 26, 1899: 5. https://www.geneologybank.com

 “She Wouldn’t Live in Chicago.” Daily Illinois State Register (Kansas City, MO), May 30, 1922. https://www.geneologybank.com

“Texas.” In The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Ida. H. Harper, 630-643. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. http://chswg.binghamton.edu/docs/historyofwomansuffrage_vol6.pdf

“Texas Delegates are Confident of Naming M’Adoo.” Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, TX), June 21, 1924. https://www.geneologybank.com

 “Texas Woman Sues Husband for $20,000.” Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, TX), June 9, 1922. https://www.geneologybank.com

 Winegarten, Ruthe and McArthur, Judith N. (Eds.). Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas. College Station, TX: Texas A&M Press, 1987.

 “Women Voters Will Form League Here.” Dallas Morning News (Dallas, TX), October 13, 1919. https://www.geneologybank.com

Images

Nona Boren Mahoney

Nona Boren Mahoney

Nona (Nonie) Boren Mahoney around 1922. | Source: Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001, periodical, 2001; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35099/m1/36/: accessed August 28, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cartoon legislators opposing suffrage

Cartoon legislators opposing suffrage

Cartoon depicting the fate of legislator opposing woman suffrage. “In this cartoon entitled ‘The politician who used to oppose woman suffrage,™ John Knott depicted the fate of legislators who had been on the losing side of the issue.” Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas volume 13, number 2 (2001), 37. | Source: Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 13, Number 2, Fall, 2001, periodical, 2001; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35099/m1/39/: accessed August 28, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society. View File Details Page

Flyer stating women can vote in Texas

Flyer stating women can vote in Texas

Flyer stating women can vote in Texas in July, 1918 | Source: FP E.4 B Folder 4 #10. Austin Suffrage Association. Courtesy of Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. http://library.austintexas.gov/ahc/jane-mccallumsuffrage-movement-353745 View File Details Page

Pro-suffrage flyer

Pro-suffrage flyer

Pro-suffrage flyer by Texas Equal Suffrage Association | Source: FP E.4 B.3 #26, Austin Suffrage Association. Courtesy of Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. http://library.austintexas.gov/ahc/jane-mccallumsuffrage-movement-353745 View File Details Page

Texas Gov Hobby signing full suffrage bill

Texas Gov Hobby signing full suffrage bill

Governor William P. Hobby signing the Texas primary suffrage bill on February 5, 1919. | Source: PICA 1670, Austin Suffrage Association. Courtesy of Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. http://library.austintexas.gov/ahc/jane-mccallumsuffrage-movement-353745 View File Details Page

Street Address:

817 Browder St., Dallas, TX 75201 [map]

Cite this Page:

Suzanne Tuckey, PhD, “Nona (Nonie) Mahoney, a Dallas Trailblazer in the Woman Suffrage Movement ,” Human Rights Dallas Maps, accessed December 17, 2018, http://humanrightsdallasmaps.com/items/show/11.

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