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Houston, Elizabeth Hart Good [Bettie] (1866–1907)

Taylor White and Margo McCutcheon Biography Entry

Elizabeth “Bettie” Hart Good Houston, suffragist and president of the Texas Equal Rights Association, daughter of Susan Anna (Floyd) and John Jay Good, was born in Alabama in February 1866. (Some genealogy sources give the year of her birth as 1864.) Her father fought in the Hedgcoxe War and for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The 1870 census listed the family in Dallas, and John Jay Good served as the mayor of that city from 1880 to 1881. In Dallas, Elizabeth Good attended Ursuline Academy, a Catholic women’s school that prepared high school age women for college. At Ursuline Academy, Good received a gold medal for “application and success in studies” and provided the salutatory address at the academy’s eleventh annual commencement. In 1886, one year after she graduated from Ursuline Academy, Good married United States district court clerk Andrew Jackson Houston, the son of soldier and politician Sam Houston. The couple lived in Dallas and had one daughter, Josephine A., in November 1888. Andrew Jackson Houston had two other daughters--Ariadne Houston and Marguerite Houston—from his first marriage to Carrie G. Purnell.

Elizabeth Houston advocated woman suffrage and served as the secretary of the Texas Equal Rights Association (TERA) in 1894. The TERA operated under the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and was the first statewide female suffrage organization in Texas. During the TERA meeting and election of 1895, Houston won the bid against Rebecca Henry Hayes and was elected president of the organization. During 1896 Houston attended the twentieth-eighth annual NAWSA convention in Washington, D.C., as part of her presidential duties. She also aimed to bolster the TERA by choosing ten people within the association to create suffrage clubs at the local and county level. Due to internal issues, Houston became the last president of the TERA, as the organization dissolved in 1896. However, she and Alice McAnulty, who was elected recording secretary at the 1895 TERA meeting, represented Texas at the twentieth-ninth annual NAWSA convention in 1897; Houston also served on the Committee on Plan of Work for the NAWSA that year.

Beyond her suffrage activities, Houston devoted her time to helping animals and people alike. During 1901 she and her husband joined the Texas Kennel Club, and her husband was chosen as the chairman. By 1905 the Houstons had moved to Beaumont, Texas, where she worked on civic improvement for the city and served on the board of directors of the Beaumont Humane Society and the United Charities. Elizabeth Hart Good Houston suffered from heart disease, and, after several days of illness, she passed away at her home on February 16, 1907, thirteen years before women gained the right to vote. Houston was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont during a Catholic ceremony. She was survived by her mother, five siblings, her husband Andrew Jackson Houston, and her daughter Josephine. Houston’s niece, Margaret Bell Houston, echoed her aunt’s work in suffrage by becoming the first president of the Dallas Equal Suffrage Association in March 1913. The University of Texas Arlington has a collection of family papers and other items about John Jay Good.

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). Houston Post, February 17, 1907. Galveston Daily News, June 8, 1895. 

Categories:

  • Women
  • Suffragists and Antisuffragists

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era

Places:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas
  • North Texas

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

Taylor White and Margo McCutcheon, “Houston, Elizabeth Hart Good [Bettie],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 28, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/houston-elizabeth-hart-good-bettie.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects:

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