Turner, Mattie Rebecca Hightower (1867–1928)

By: Judith N. McArthur

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

Updated: April 3, 2022

Mattie Rebecca Turner, temperance and child welfare advocate, was born on December 25, 1867, in Cass County, to Isaac O. and Rebecca (Dudley) Hightower. She was raised and educated in Johnson County near Cleburne, and married Dr. John S. Turner in 1885. In the next twenty-four years she and her husband moved six times and raised three daughters (two sons died in infancy) while Dr. Turner pursued a career in psychiatric medicine. During this period Mrs. Turner rose in the ranks of the state Woman's Christian Temperance Union; she edited the organization's journal, the Texas White Ribbon, for 5½ years and served as state vice president at large from 1902 until 1907. She succeeded to the state presidency after Helen M. Stoddard's resignation in 1907 and filled her place as a regent of the College of Industrial Arts for Women (now Texas Woman's University). A serious illness the following year forced her to resign from the Texas WCTU presidency and retire temporarily from public work. After the family moved permanently to Dallas in 1909, Mrs. Turner widened her field of social welfare activities. She was particularly concerned with the issues of liquor control, education, and child welfare; as a consequence she favored granting the ballot to women in order to enable them to protect the interests of family and community at the polls. She continued local, district, and state work for the TWCTU and was a founding member of the Texas Congress of Mothers, in which she served as secretary for eight years. She held the office of vice president for life in the Dallas Council of Parents and Teachers and was a charter member of the Dallas Woman Suffrage Association (see WOMAN SUFFRAGE), the Civic Federation of Dallas, and the Southern Sociological Congress. Mattie Turner was an active churchwoman who served the North Texas Conference of Methodists for three years as superintendent of social service and for seven more as president. She was the first woman to represent her conference at the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. She died in Dallas on November 21, 1928.

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May Baines, A Story of Texas White Ribboners (1935?). Sinclair Moreland, The Texas Women's Hall of Fame (Austin: Biographical Press, 1917). Texas Clubwoman, November 1909.

  • Education
  • School Trustees and Regents
  • Religion
  • Methodist
  • Women
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Temperance
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Judith N. McArthur, “Turner, Mattie Rebecca Hightower,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/turner-mattie-rebecca-hightower.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995
April 3, 2022

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: