Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Minnie H. Funk Byrd, 1858-1943

By Blake Sabol, undergraduate student, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Suffragist and temperance activist

Minnie H. Funk was born around 1858 in Shelby County, Illinois, to parents Lemuel and Mary Funk. The Funk family moved to Texas by 1880, and Minnie Funk had also married William C. Byrd. In 1882, the couple welcomed a son, Richard G. Byrd. By 1910, Minnie Byrd was a widow, and she took up residence with her also widowed sister, Katherine B. Patterson, in New Mexico. The 1920 census places the sisters in Oklahoma City, but newspaper reports have them in New Mexico throughout the 1920s.

According to the state report in the History of Woman Suffrage, Minnie Byrd advocated for woman suffrage in New Mexico. Byrd believed woman suffrage to be a tangible way for women to push temperance reforms; she focused her efforts with the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), especially at the state and local levels. In 1906, she was a WCTU delegate from Oklahoma City during the thirty-third annual convention that took place in Hartford, Connecticut. In July 1920, Byrd and her sister, Katherine Patterson, arranged for land to be sold and the money used to help build the Frances E. Willard Industrial School for Girls, which was opening the following September in Belen, New Mexico. Byrd continued to fundraise, and she served on the board for the school. While in New Mexico, she served as an officer for the WCTU state branch and contributed at the forty-second annual convention for the New Mexico WCTU. The Patterson-Byrd Union was a local WCTU branch named after the sisters.

In 1930, the sisters lived in Amarillo, Texas, with Richard Byrd as the head of house. In August 1931, the sisters had returned to New Mexico. At age 85, Minnie Byrd died on March 15, 1943. Byrd is buried with family in Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque.


Find a Grave. Minnie H. Byrd. Accessed October 4, 2018.

"Funeral Set Wednesday for Mrs. Minnie Byrd." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). March 16, 1943, p.5.

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. "New Mexico." Chapter XXX in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6: 1900-1920. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, 434-439. [LINK]

"Reception for State Officers of W.C.T.U." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). July 18, 1920, p.2.

"Roy E. Kingsbury Comes from Seattle." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). August 18, 1931, p.5.

"To Attend W.C.T.U. Convention." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). October 13, 1926, p.5.

United States Census 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940, s.v. "Minnie H. Byrd." HeritageQuest.

United States Census 1860, 1880, 1900, s.v. "Lemuel Funk." HeritageQuest.

"W.C.T.U. Speaker." Roswell Daily Record(Roswell, N. Mex.). January 25, 1921, p.1.

"W.C.T.U. to Have Institute." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). August 11, 1929, Society Section, p.2.

"Willard Girls' School Reopens September 15th." Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N. Mex.). May 4, 1926, p.3.

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