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TOWNSEND, ELIZABETH STHRESHLEY (?–1919). Elizabeth Sthreshley Townsend, inventor and teacher, was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the daughter of William H. and Cordelia D. Sthreshley. Her family moved to Texas when she was a small child. Elizabeth graduated from Sam Houston Normal Institute in 1886 and accepted a position in Austin in the literary department of the Texas Institution for the Blind (see TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND) in 1887. In 1890 she received a patent for inventing the punctograph, a braille typewriter. She married George F. Townsend on July 5, 1894, stopped teaching at the Institute for the Blind, and worked for a time in her husband's photography studio on Congress Avenue. When her husband began working with X-ray equipment, Mrs. Townsend learned to use it, too. She worked for several years as an assistant at the Torbett Sanatorium in Marlin. She died in Marlin on October 12, 1919, and was buried beside her parents at Oakwood Cemetery, Austin.


Austin Statesman, October 14, 1919.

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl


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

Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, "TOWNSEND, ELIZABETH STHRESHLEY," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 29, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.