Biographical Sketch of Mary Alice Mcfadin Mcanulty

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary Alice Mcfadin Mcanulty, 1862–1957

By Margo McCutcheon and Christopher De La Cruz

This entry has been republished with special permission from the Handbook of Texas Women, a project of the Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association. <>. Accessed September 15, 2019.

MCANULTY, MARY ALICE MCFADIN (1862–1957). Mary Alice McFadin McAnulty, suffragist, farmer, rancher, and miner, daughter of Mollie L. (Sherman) McFadin and John N. McFadin, was born on October 22, 1862, likely in Williamson County, Texas. In 1846 the McFadin family helped settle what became Williamson County. John N. McFadin practiced law throughout the state and eventually served as the chief justice of Williamson County and later the district attorney for Texas's western district. Members of both the McFadin and Sherman families fought in the Texas Revolution and practiced stock raising. Mary Alice McFadin, who went by the name Alice, was the oldest of ten children. Her siblings were: Zuma, William A., Ora J., Ella, ZeVan (who died in infancy), TeVan David, Auma J., Nina, and Von Veree.

Alice McFadin grew up in her family's home near Taylor, Williamson County, Texas, and attended two years of college. During 1886 she served as her sister Zuma's bridesmaid during Zuma's marriage to H. H. Jenkins, whose groomsman was Charles W. McAnulty of Cassoday, Kansas. One year later, on March 6, 1887, a Presbyterian minister married McFadin and Charles McAnulty in Harper, Kansas. Charles McAnulty worked in the lumber business before the marriage. The couple lived in Circleville, Texas, located about five miles north of Taylor, where they operated a farm and ranch and grew corn and cotton and raised a variety of livestock such as cattle, poultry, and horses. Alice McAnulty was called, "one of the most tireless workers in the poultry cause in Texas." She served as secretary, treasurer, and member of the committee on constitution and bylaws for the Texas State Poultry Association; wrote analytical papers about the poultry business; and spoke at events such as the Farmers' Alliance. During 1899 McAnulty chaired a committee to prepare for a meeting of the Texas State Poultry Association at which the association considered reorganizing or creating a new organization. This association likely became the Texas Poultry, Pigeon and Pet Stock Association, and McAnulty continued to serve as its secretary.

Alice McAnulty's interests and responsibilities extended beyond farming activities. She was a member of the Texas Equal Rights Association (TERA) and was a participant in many efforts to further woman suffrage in Texas. The TERA, founded in May 1893, represented the Texas membership of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). McAnulty, her husband, and her sisters, Ora and Veree, were charter members of the TERA. David H. McFadin, McAnulty's grandfather, became the first honorary member of the TERA for his support of the organization's goals. McAnulty helped organize and became vice president of an auxiliary suffrage organization in Taylor, Texas, just two months after the creation of the TERA. As part of her duties for the TERA, she directed a department that listed laws benefitting or discriminating against women. She, along with Elizabeth Austin Turner Fry of San Antonio, attended the Populist convention in 1894 in an attempt to gain an equal suffrage plank in the Populist party, the political party McAnulty supported. In 1895 Alice McAnulty became the recording and corresponding secretary of TERA. She attended the twenty-eighth annual NAWSA convention along with TERA president Elizabeth Good Houston in 1896 as well as the twenty-ninth annual NAWSA convention one year later, even though the TERA ended in 1896. McAnulty also maintained a membership in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

Alice McAnulty experienced several changes in her life beginning in 1907. She was one of eight women testifying for suffrage at an open session of the Texas House Committee on Constitutional Amendments in April, and after the session, these women agreed to contact NAWSA about reorganizing a state suffrage organization. The next month, lightning struck her home, one of the oldest homes in Williamson County, and burned it down. By 1908 McAnulty and her husband likely separated since she began using her maiden name. Under the name of Alice McFadin, she ran for election as the state superintendent of public instruction for the Socialist party in 1908 and received 7,631 votes. Alice McFadin continued to live in Williamson County in 1910 while offering her home to boarders. Four years later, she sold her 400-acre farm, which had been in her family since 1846, for $50,045. By 1920 she owned an 11,000-acre farm in Slaton, Lubbock County, Texas, and was the secretary-treasurer of the Continental Commission Company of Winkelman, Arizona. McFadin's friend Lee Reagin, president of the Continental Commission Company, brought her attention to a mine in east Pinal County near Hayden, Arizona, that she agreed to help finance.

Alice McFadin spent the rest of her life in Arizona, where two of her siblings lived with her in Cochise County in 1940. McFadin continued to work as a mine operator until her death from heart disease on March 22, 1957, in Douglas, Arizona. At different points in the 1930s, McFadin corresponded back and forth with her sister and former suffragist, Von Veree McFadin Godfrey, and Jane Y. McCallum about nineteenth-century Texas suffrage history for articles McCallum wrote about Texas suffrage. During this correspondence, McFadin supplied McCallum with a scrapbook kept in the 1890s by another TERA leader, Grace Danforth. Danforth had left the TERA artifact to McFadin when she died in 1895. This series of correspondence was the source for the existence of the TERA and recognition of its existence later by historians. In the 1940s McCallum, McFadin, and Godfrey again corresponded about Texas suffrage history to aid southern women's historian, Antoinette Elizabeth Taylor, in formulating her narrative for an article she eventually published in 1951 in The Journal of Southern History. A collection of suffrage ephemera and artifacts belonging to McFadin is located at the Texas State Library and Archives.


Jessica S. Brannon-Wranosky, "Southern Promise and Necessity: Texas, Regional Identity, and the National Woman Suffrage Movement, 1868–1920" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Texas, 2010). History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893). Von Veree McFadin Papers, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin. Ruthe Winegarten and Judith N. McArthur, eds., Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas (Austin: Temple, 1987; College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2015).

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