Emma Grigsby Meharg, the first Texas woman secretary of state, was born on August 14, 1873, at Lynnville, Tennessee, the daughter of Jasper N. and Mary Amanda (Calvert) Grigsby. In 1883 the family moved to Italy, Texas, where she attended public school. She graduated from Southwestern Normal College in 1895. She married Samuel W. Meharg, a native of Anniston, Alabama, on June 24, 1902, and went as a bride to Plainview, Texas, where her husband became principal of the public school. Mrs. Meharg also taught school both in Italy and Plainview. The couple had two children.
Emma Meharg was appointed secretary of state by Governor Miriam A. Ferguson and served during 1925 and 1926. In her official biennial report she made a number of recommendations for changes in laws relating to corporations, securities, administration of the secretary of state's office, and the institution of a civil service system for state employees. Subsequent legislatures enacted into law many of her proposals. She strongly recommended that the office of the secretary of state be made an elective rather than appointive office because the duties of the office were of a more public nature than at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of 1876. She also advocated adoption of a constitutional amendment to raise the salary of the secretary of state from the $2,000 per year set by the Constitution of 1876. During her administration as secretary of state many historical records were taken out of storage, restored, and processed for easy reference and exhibit.
Mrs. Meharg was a leader in civic, cultural, church, and political affairs. She served on the Plainview board of school trustees and on the board of regents of Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) from 1932 to 1937. She died at Plainview on September 4, 1937, and was buried there.
The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.