Hortense Sparks Ward was born in Matagorda County in 1872. She began her career as a school teacher and later worked as a stenographer and court reporter, where she became interested in the study of law. She married Houston attorney William Henry Ward, who later became a county judge; she became the first woman to pass the bar examination in 1910 and one of the first women admitted to the Texas State Bar. In 1915, she became the first woman from Texas to be admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. She became a champion of women’s rights and became the first woman to register to vote in Harris County. In 1925, she became the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas when she was appointed by Governor Pat Neff to serve as Special Chief Justice to hear the case of Johnson v. Darr, after the male justices recused themselves.