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Ewing Family Papers

Identifier: 2008-020

The Ewing Family Papers are housed in 6 boxes and organized into 5 series titled Mary Ellen Ewing, Gladys Ewing, Family Photographs, Presley K. Ewing, and Josie (Vesta) Ewing. This collection documents the feminist activities of Mary Ellen Ewing, Gladys Ewing’s social life, legal and familial concerns of Presley K. Ewing, and the writings and journeys of Josie (Vesta) Ewing.


  • 1877-2011
  • Majority of material found within 1911-1926


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The material in this collection is in the public domain.


6.0 linear feet

Biographical Information

Honorable Presley Kittredge Ewing was born on July 21, 1860 in the Lafourche Parish of Louisiana. He attended preparatory school before earning his Law degree from the University of Mississippi as valedictorian in 1881. In 1882, he settled in Houston, Texas where he became a practicing attorney. Shortly thereafter, on February 10, 1885, Ewing married his seven year long fiancée, Mary Ellen Williams, at “Sunnyside,” her family home in Lafourche Parish.

Both Presley and Mary Ellen made considerable contributions to society as a whole within their own realm of interest. Honorable Ewing was elected and served as President of the Texas Bar Associations in 1899; and in 1905, he was commissioned and served as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas, and he was endorsed by many for U.S. Supreme Court, but was never appointed. Over the years, he became known as a pioneer of the law profession as he developed many great judicial principals of the South. In addition to his professional success, Ewing was also seen as a social leader. For many years he was the President of the ZZ Club, which is the oldest social organization in Texas, and he was a Master Mason, a Knight Templar, a Shriner, an Elk and a Beta-Theta-Phi.

Mary Ellen, born August 7, 1862 in the St. Mary’s Parish of Louisiana, possessed and accumulated a myriad of distinguishable attributes and accomplishments as well. Her life was characterized by public and philanthropic service, which deservedly placed her in “The Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.” Notably, she was the Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Harris County Equal Suffrage Association and Honorary President of the Child Welfare League. In addition, she was the first Vice President of State Congress of Mothers and the State Humane Society. She was also known for her advocacy endeavors and feminist activism as she fought for public school reform and advocated for women to be on the school board. Last, but not least, inventor was another role she succeeded in as she was granted three Letters Patent of the United States for developments in street sanitation.

The union of Honorable Presley and Mary Ellen Ewing produced two daughters: Josie Vesta, born February 11, 1886 and Gladys, born April 17, 1893. Both daughters attended private school, graduated from Houston High School at the ages of 16 and earned a post graduate diploma with high honors from the Finch School in New York City. Josie Vesta married Joseph Carroll Vinson at Christ Church (Episcopal), Both daughters were members of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution as well.


Ewing, Presley Kittredge and Mary Ellen (Williams) Ewing. The Ewing Genealogy with Cognate Branches: A Survey of the Ewings and Their Kin in America. Presley K. Ewing, 1919.

Acquisition Information

Purchased for WARC by HE Butt Corporation in 2008. Additional materials were acquired in 2012 as part of donations by Vesta Eidman and Sally Combes Leahey.

Digital Collections

Selections from the Ewing Family Papers digital collection


Guide to the Ewing Family Papers
Dick Dickerson, Sharleen Guide, and Timothy Wyatt
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA