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HARTSON, MARY LUCY KYLE

HARTSON, MARY LUCY KYLE (1865–1956). Mary Lucy Kyle Hartson, early woman mayor, was born on December 6, 1865, at Kyle, Texas, the daughter of Anna Elizabeth (Moore) and Fergus Kyle, for whom the town was named. She was the granddaughter of Lucy (Bugg) and Claiborne Kyle, who settled with their eight children near the Blanco River in 1850. Both her grandfather and father served in the Texas legislature. Her brother Edwin Jackson Kyle was president of the athletic association at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (later Texas A&M University) and later ambassador to Guatemala. Mary attended school at Blanco Chapel and the Kyle Seminary. In 1888 she graduated from Sam Houston Normal Institute at Huntsville and began a teaching career in Taylor, Texas. While visiting in Dallas in 1891 she met George Dorr Hartson, a young electrical engineer from New York, who moved to Texas to supervise the construction of the Electrical Street Car System. On November 21, 1891, Mary and George were married in Kyle. They made their home in Dallas, later in Laredo, and in 1898 George Hartson accepted the position of electrical supervisor with the Avino Mining Company, thirty miles from Durango, Mexico. On February 4, 1901, Hartson was killed in an accident during an inspection tour of the upper mines, leaving Mary a young widow with two children and another born three months after his burial in Kyle, Texas. In the spring of 1901 Mary Kyle Hartson was appointed postmistress of Kyle, and although a staunch Democrat she served through five administrations until August 1925.

As a seventy-two-year-old great-grandmother she was elected mayor of Kyle by a write-in vote in 1937. A picture of Mayor Hartson appeared in the May 10, 1937, Life magazine, where she was written up as the only woman mayor in Texas at the time. From 1937 until 1941 and from 1944 until 1946 Mary Hartson was mayor, and along with the "all woman" city council elected in 1944 made Ripley's Believe It or Not. During her term of office as mayor, the town built a municipal water system, installed street lights, updated the fire department, and kept the city clean. Of her administration Mrs. Hartson said, "We balanced the budget, and cleaned up the town. Then when everything was under control, I retired." After retiring at age eighty-one, she went to Wichita Falls to live with her daughter. She continued to be active in the Woman's Forum in Wichita Falls, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She was a Methodist. She died on March 20, 1956, and was buried in the Kyle cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Life, May 10, 1937. Frances Stovall et al., Clear Springs and Limestone Ledges: A History of San Marcos and Hays County (San Marcos: Hays County Historical Commission, 1986). Ann Miller Strom, The Prairie City: A History of Kyle, Texas, 1880–1980 (Burnet, Texas: Nortex, 1981). Vertical File, Tula Townsend Wyatt Collection, San Marcos Public Library, San Marcos, Texas.

Ann Miller Strom

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Ann Miller Strom, "HARTSON, MARY LUCY KYLE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhazf), accessed September 23, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.