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Estill, Mary Sexton (1901–1982)

Natalie Ornish Biography Entry

Mary Sexton Estill, teacher and author, was born on April 28, 1901, in Huntsville, Texas, to Loulie Sharpe (Sexton) and Harry Fishburne Estill. Her great-grandfather, Daniel L. Richardson, fought at San Jacinto. She received a B.A. degree from Columbia University, New York. After researching in London, she wrote a thesis comparing methods of public education in Great Britain and the United States, for which she received an M.A. degree from Columbia. She taught in Marshall, Trinity, Greenville, Huntsville, and other Texas towns, and on the college level at Stephen F. Austin State University, West Texas State University, and Sam Houston State University. In 1970 she wrote a history of Sam Houston State University of which her father was fifth president. She preserved much Texas history with her writings, which included articles for several historical journals. She was active in many historic and educational organizations and was one of the earliest Presbyterian woman elders. She was a leader in integration in her area. She started the first interdenominational and interracial organization for improving housing for low-income citizens in Walker County. For her community service, the town named a street in her honor. She died on June 23, 1982, and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Huntsville.

Walker County Genealogical Society and Walker County Historical Commission, Walker County (Dallas, 1986).


  • Education
  • Educators
  • General Education
  • Women

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

Natalie Ornish, “Estill, Mary Sexton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed March 04, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: