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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

It's All a Matter of Perspective.

It's been three weeks since I posted here. I have considered posting, but it didn't seem like I had anything to say, so I didn't. Actually, I had plenty to talk about and still didn't. I was busy with my personal pursuits, looking for more information on Texas women judges and spending far too much time doing trivial things like that stupid, insipid game of Spider Solitaire. I have done a good deal of research on the women, lots less of the writing than I should, though I have close to a hundred pages written at this point--in my commitment to have a complete draft in 102 more days (by the end of the year.) Last night I promised myself I'd write just a chatty account of the last three weeks of my life, even if it didn't add up to the mini-essays I usually try to put here. Then this morning I sat down to the email messages and found one from my dear friend Terrie telling of her replacing plans to pursue a master's degree with treatment of the cancer she though she had defeated. Please hold Terrie in your heart, and you can follow her new blog.

In perspective my life the last few weeks is rather delightful. We went to Smokefest in the Dallas area and got to see David and Dezi and to meet more of Dezi's family which was a real treat. Then last week I went to Dallas and while attending the judicial conference buried myself evenings in the Dallas Public Library, getting lots of stuff on judges I had identified and several more new names. Wednesday afternoon I went to the City of Dallas Archives and read through about a year's (1919's) City Commission minutes looking for evidence Helen Viglini was a municipal judge in Dallas. However, putting together other information I already had, but which had come back into my mind in clearer focus in the library work, I decided I was in the wrong city, that I'm pretty sure it was in Wichita Falls she was a municipal judge. My reasoning is this:

  • Helen Viglini in 1917 was left with several small children when her husband died

  • She was admitted to the bar on June 16, 1919.

  • She appears on the 1920 census in Wichita Falls, a white woman, age 34, born in Louisiana, a roomer with J. R. Haskins, and by profession a lawyer. Her children are scattered with her married daughter and other family members but not with her in Wichita Falls.

  • She was Dallas' first woman Assistant District Attorney in 1921 and 1922 under Maury Hughes.

  • Dallas District Attorney Maury Hughes, who had launched an investigation into Klan violence, was decisively beaten by Shelby Cox in 1922.

  • The Dallas Times Herald on February 1, 1922, said: "Mrs. Viglini was the only woman to occupy the corporation court bench in Texas."

  • Sometime between being admitted to the bar June 16, 1919, and February 1, 1922, she was on a municipal (corporation) court bench. If she was an Assistant District Attorney in 1922, she still was probably that on February 1 and certainly hadn't had time to be a judge after she was an ADA. While she could have been a municipal judge without having been a lawyer, she wouldn't have been. Maybe a man in the early 19th century, but a woman? Never. That leaves the time between June 16, 1919, and sometime in 1921.

  • Why would Helen Viglini have left her children in Tarrant County and gone to Wichita County? For a job.

  • What do you think? Click the comments link at the beginning of this entry.

Incidentally, I also found out that Helen Viglini ran against her sister Edith Wilmans for the state legislature in 1935. I knew she had run against Sarah Hughes when Hughes was elected in 1928, but I find the fact the sisters both ran to replace Hughes fascinating. Neither won.

Not to change the subject, but to get back to it, this weekend my husband Mike helped my brother-in-law Mike with an estate sale. We bought a set of china, and I'm excited to now have a service for 12 so I can feed people. I guess I need to set up an event and invite between 9 and 12 people for it!

As far as the weight loss pursuit, I've lost 18.5 pounds in 36 days, a total of 20.5 inches. I find it amusing they measure a lot of different places so that the inches pile up, but hey, 2.5 of that was in the bust line, and that's for real! They have given me 20.5 inches of yellow ribbon which is tied to my steering wheel in celebration. When it looks like a bow, I'll show it to you.

I've recently been contacted by family members of Beth Wright, Eva Barnes, and Winna Fay Castleberry and have information on a woman County Judge in Ector County I missed, Lucille Gerron.

No, my life isn't bad at all. Hang in there, Terrie.

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