Biographical Sketch of Mary (Mrs. A. H.) Horton

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Mary (Mrs. A. H.) Horton, 1841-1933

By Suzanne Tuckey, PhD, independent scholar

President, Topeka Federation of Women; President, Good Government Club; President and co-founder, Women's Kansas Day Club; Regent and charter member, Topeka chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Mary Ann Sawyer was born on November 16, 1841, in Sharon, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, to Harvey and Adeline (Haywood) Sawyer. Mary married Addison Prescott, also of New Hampshire, in 1865. The couple settled in Kansas, where Addison pursued a banking career, eventually serving as president of the Central Bank of Topeka. They had four children—one son and three daughters. Addison died in 1883 at the age of 46, and three years later, Mary married Albert Howell Horton, who had lost his spouse a few years prior. At the time of their marriage, Albert was chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court. He had previously served in the Kansas House of Representatives and the Kansas Senate, and had been narrowly defeated in a campaign for the U.S. Senate. Mary and Albert settled in Topeka, where they both became active in Republican politics. Albert had four children from his first marriage. Mary and Albert had no children together. Albert died on September 2, 1902, at the age of 65 after suffering from a malignant liver disease and heart complications. Mary died on January 6, 1933, at the age of 91, at her daughter's home in Kansas City. She was buried in Topeka alongside her first husband.

Similar to many women who became leaders in the woman suffrage movement during the late 19th century, Mary gained prominence through her work with her local Equal Suffrage Association. In 1896, she was chosen to give the address at the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association's 13th annual convention in Topeka. This was a period of heightened social and political activism in Kansas, activism associated with woman suffrage as well as the spreading populist movement and the resulting People's Party. Emerging largely within Southern and Midwestern states, the populist movement was rooted in the farming community and based on objections to the government's unfair support of big business over farming. The Republican Party opposed populism and the People's Party and tensions grew, so much so that divisions formed among suffragists. In 1901, after months of secret meetings, a select group of Topeka suffragists rejected their memberships in the Equal Suffrage Association and formed a new group, the Good Government Club. However, membership in this new group was by invitation only. The new group was formed with 25 members and Mary Horton was elected president. According to an article in the Topeka State Journal, the new members were prominent woman with politically influential husbands; populists and Republicans, known for inciting controversy, were excluded. The reason, the Journal stated, involved a conditional promise from a local Topeka newspaper to endorse woman suffrage if suffragists could demonstrate harmony within their group. The membership selection strategy, therefore, was designed to avoid conflict and gain suffrage support.

After Albert's death in 1902, Mary remained involved in the woman suffrage movement, the Republican Party, and various other civic organizations. In 1903, she was elected president of the Topeka Federation of Women. In 1905, she co-founded the Woman's Kansas Day Club with several other Good Government Club members. The objectives of the Woman's Kansas Day Club included preserving the history of Kansas, promoting good fellowship, and instilling patriotism in the young. A few years later, Mary was elected the club's third president. In 1912, the year Kansas became the eighth state granting women full enfranchisement, she was elected president of the Topeka Federation of Women. She retired as the federation's president the following year, at the age of 72. In Mary's later years, she served on the advisory board of the Good Government Club and as regent for the Topeka chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mary was awarded honorary lifetime membership in the Good Government Club and the title of President Emeritus of the Woman's Club of Topeka for her commitment and service.

SOURCES:

Addison Prescott. (2019). Memorial no. 12710689. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12710689/addison-prescott

Albert Howell Horton. (2019). Memorial no. 54865360. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/54865360/albert-howell-horton

Garwood, D. D. (1987, June). Albert Howell Horton Papers (Box 1, Folder 1. Coll391). Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS. Retrieved from https://www.kshs.org/p/albert-howell-horton-papers/14044#bio

Horton is dead: End came to distinguished Kansan last Tuesday (1902, September 5). Iola Register, p. 1. https://www.newspapers.com/image/479940349/

Populism. (2011, June). Kansas Historical Society. Retrieved from https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/populism/15160

Woman's Kansas Day Club. (2019). Kansas Historical Society. Retrieved from https://www.kshs.org/p/woman-s-kansas-day-club/11393

Mary A. Sawyer. (1850). United States Federal Census (Roll M432_433, Page: 357B). Retrieved from http://heritagequest.com

Mary A. Sawyer Horton. (2019). Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books (152 vols.). [online database]. Retrieved from www.ancestry.com

Mary Ann Sawyer Horton. (2019). Memorial no. 12710698. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12710698/mary-ann-horton

On new basis: Suffrage movement in Topeka being reorganized (1901, November 14). Topeka State Journal, p. 4. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/323154558

Society (1912, June 22). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 17. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/323598193

Society (1912, November 6). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 7. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/323979485/

Society (1913, June 5). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 5. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/324616717/

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Society. (1914, August 19). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 7. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/323599601/

Society. (1916, May 17). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 7. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/323881025

Society. (1917, January 29). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 9. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/324517326/

Society. (1917, April 7). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 14. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/324546349

Society. (1918, January 28). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 7. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/324183641

Society. (1921, November 5). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 3. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/324360730

Society. (1922, January 14). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 4. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/324526492/

Suffragists happy: Congratulate California women on their victory. (1911, October 17). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 6. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/323609747

The Topeka federation under new rule. (1903, April 4). The Topeka Daily Herald, p. 9. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/387436801/

The Topeka nuptials. (1886, November 20). Weekly Atchison Champion, p. 3. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/80256205

Underwood, J. O. (1984, winter). Civilizing Kansas: Women's organizations, 1880-1920. Kansas History, 7(4), pp. 291-306. Retrieved from https://www.kshs.org/publicat/history/1984winter_underwood.pdf

Woke them up! Socialist member stirred Good Government Club. (1917, May 11). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 9. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/324560544

Women are here: State gathering of the Equal Suffragists at Topeka. (1896, November 9). The Topeka State Journal, p. 1. https://www.newspapers.com/image/323138050

Women's clubs (1910, January 15). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 17. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/323088189/

Women's clubs (1910, December 10). The Topeka Daily State Journal, p. 3. Retrieved from https://www.newspapers.com/image/323198965

 

Mary A. Prescott Horton [digital image]. Kansas Memory (Identifier DaRT ID: 210270, Call Number B. Horton, Albert H. *5), Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS.
Retrieved from https://www.kansasmemory.org/item/210270

 

Mary Ann Sawyer Prescott [digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.ancestry.com

 

Mary A. Prescott Horton [digital image]. Kansas Memory (Identifier DaRT ID: 210271, Call Number B. Horton, Albert H. *6), Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS. Retrieved from https://www.kansasmemory.org/item/210271

 

Mrs. Addison Prescott [digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.ancestry.com

 

Gravestone of Mary Ann Sawyer Horton (wife of Addison Prescott and, later, wife of Albert H. Horton) located at Topeka Cemetery, Kansas Mary Ann Sawyer Prescott [digital image]. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12710698/mary-ann-horton

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