Frances Willard Munds

General Information

Frances Lillian Willard, Francis Lillian Munds, Mrs. John L. Munds, Fannie Munds
June 10, 1866
Franklin, Sacramento Co., CA, USA
December 16, 1948
Prescott, Yavapai Co., AZ, USA
Mountain View Cemetery, Prescott, Yavapai County, Arizona

Legislative Resolution

View Legislative Resolution File for Frances Willard Munds

Biographical Information

The following is from Jo Conners' Who's Who in Arizona (Tucson, AZ:  Jo Conners, 1913), pp. 606-608:

Frances Lillian Munds, or, as she prefers to be known, Frances Willard Munds, was born [in Franklin] near Sacramento, California, and has spent her entire life, except four years spent at school in Pittsfield, Maine, in the States of California, Nevada and Arizona.  Her ancestors were famous in the political and pioneer history of this great West. Her maternal grandfather, Colonel James Russell Vineyard, was a member of the legislature of Wisconsin when that State was still a Territory, and was also a member of its Constitutional Convention....  Her paternal grandfather was a member of the famous Lewis & Clark expedition and was highly commended for his bravery on that perilous and history making trip.  Mrs. Munds is the daughter of Mrs. Mary Grace Willard, of Cottonwood, Yavapai County, who has been a resident of this State since 1879, and was a pioneer in both California and Nevada.  She is, therefore, thoroughly inbued with the true spirit of the pioneer, and as a heritage from her Mrs. Munds has undoubtedly been endowed with her chief characteristics, a willingness to attempt, and the ability to achieve, though years of effort be necessary to effect the consummation of her plans.  Mrs. Munds' early childhood was spent in Nevada, where educational advantages were limited, and her earliest recollections of making a wish are connected with a children's party, when told to do so by an older person, and her wish was that she be sent to school.  A few years later her wish was granted, when she accompanied her sister and her sister's husband to Maine, where for four years she attended Central Institute, Pittsdield, Maine, which is the fitting school for Bates College.  She then came to Arizona, where her mother and brothers were, and taught for two years in the country schools of Yavapai County.  On March 5, 1890, she was married to John L. Munds, a young cattleman, who, a few years later, as Sheriff of Yavapai County, became known throughout Arizona for his daring and bravery.  She is the mother of three children.  The eldest, William Harold, is studying mining engineering in the University of Arizona, being a member of the graduating class of 1913, and two daughters, Sadie Grace and Mary Frances.  Mrs. Munds became actively interested in suffrage work in Arizona 15 years ago, and was made secretary of the first State Suffrage organization, since when she has been prominent in all the suffrage agitation that has been known in the State, which is practically all that has ever been done.  She was one of the three women who attended the legislature and worked for the passage of the Suffrage Bill in 1903, when it was passed by both houses, but vetoed by Governor Brodie.  This was a blow that demoralized the movement, but the forces were soon reorganized on a different plan, with a State Central Committee, of which Mrs. Munds was Chairman.  The recent victorious campaign was conducted entirely by the members of this committee under Mrs. Munds' supervision.  Its entire cost was less than $2,200, which she raised personally, several hundred dollars having been a personal contribution.  Mrs. Munds has been asked to allow her name to go before the people of Yavapai County for Senator at the next election, and received the nomination for State Representative to the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, in Budapest, June 1913, the executive having requested Governor Hunt to appoint her officially.  At the close of the recent campaign, when deluged by telegrams of congratulation, the two she most values were from her husband and son, received before it was absolutely known that success had been attained.  Her son, William H. Munds, cast his first vote for the triumphant cause.  Mr. John L. Munds is a southern Democrat, and Mrs. Munds leans towards progressive Democracy.

The following is from the Legislative death resolution:


Mrs. Munds came of pioneer American forebears.  Her paternal grandfather was Alexander Hamilton Willard, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition by appointment of President Thomas Jefferson.  Her parents, Joel and Mary Grace Willard, crossed the plains to the '49 gold rush in a covered wagon.  She was born June 10, 1866, on the ranch of her grandfather near Sacramento, California.  After a residence in Nevada, her parents moved in 1878 to Arizona, settling at Cottonwood, on the Verde river.

Educated at Bates College, Lewiston,Maine, Mrs. Munds became one of Arizona's early day school teachers a profession in which she excelled.  Her interests, however, were varied and broad.  She was a charter member of and held high offices in the grand chapter of the Eastern Star of Arizona.  An early advocate of equal suffrage, she was secretary of the first suffrage organization and exerted herself in behalf of a bill granting the vote to women passed by the legislature in 1903 and vetoed by Governor Brodie.  In 1913 she was nominated for state representative to the International Woman Suffrage Alliance in Budapest by Governor George W. P. Hunt.

In 1914 Mrs. Munds was elected to represent the people of Yavapai county in the Senate of the Second Legislature.  In that body she was honored by the chairmanship of the important Committee on Education and Public Institutions, and membership on the Public Health and Statistics and the Enrolling and Engrossing Committees.  To this service she gave her earnest and sincere efforts, and won the respect of her fellow workers….

Additional Information

First woman elected to the Arizona State Senate. The following is her Arizona Women's Hall of Fame biography:

By the time a woman becomes a grandmother, she's not expected to step out of her home and into a political career, even these days.  But that is exactly what former schoolteacher Frances Willard Munds did January 11, 1915, when she took office as a senator in the second Arizona Legislature.  She was the first woman senator in Arizona and the second in the United States.

Momentous as the occasion was, it was not her first foray into the public limelight.  Frances Munds was an active clubwoman from Prescott who became involved in the Arizona Women’s Christian Temperance Union.  This led to her involvement in the Arizona Equal Suffrage Association in 1903.  She served as president of the state suffrage association from 1909 to 1912.  The women struggled for years to convince male legislators and voters to grant women the right of franchise.  During Arizona’s constitutional convention, Munds lobbied for a pro-suffrage plank but was unsuccessful.  Finally Arizona women won the right to vote in 1912 through an initiative measure, shortly after Arizona became a state. 

Born in June 10, 1866, in Franklin, California, Frances Willard’s earliest wish was to go to school.  She got her chance when she moved to Maine where she lived with her sister's family, attending Central Institute in Pittsfield. Meanwhile, her parents moved from California to Prescott, where her father, John Willard, became a well-known cattleman.

In 1885, when Frances was 19, she joined her parents in Prescott, teaching school in Yavapai County.  Her paternal grandfather had been a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and her maternal grandfather, Col. James R. Vineyard, was a member of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature.  Maybe it was this heritage, or possibly it was her educational background, but Frances was deeply involved in the suffrage campaign by the time she was married five years later to John L. Munds.

In 1914, at the age of 48, Frances Munds won election as senator from Yavapai County.  "The women were splendidly loyal in the way they supported me," she said later.  "There were seven candidates in the field with only two to be elected.  Four of the other candidates were lawyers and one was a cattle king who was backed by the corporations and a portion of the liquor men.  Fortunately, the saloon men did not support this particular candidate, and so I won the race."

Her margin of victory was wide--she won 600 votes more than the second place candidate.  The victorious new senator said, "We believe that we have proved ourselves worthy of the ballot.  Women have been earnest in their endeavors to support the best candidate and to work by the right means for the right measures."

Frances Munds took her place in the upper legislative chambers January 11, 1915, commenting to a newspaper reporter later, "Our friends, the trueblue conservatives, will be shocked to think of a grandmother sitting in the state Senate."   Shocking or no, she got right to work and introduced several bills.   In her two year term, she served on the Land Committee, which formulated policy dealing with control and disposition of all state lands, and the Committee on Education and Public Institutions, of which she was chairman.

The women of Arizona nominated Frances Munds to another public office in 1918, the office of secretary of state, but she was defeated 17,325 to 12,034 in the primary election. That was the last time she ran for office, withdrawing from public life in her later years.

She died at age 82 on December 16, 1948.


Occupation Title Years
Community/Social Services/Religious suffragist
Education/Library teacher

Arizona Legislative Service

Session Chamber Party District City County Office Notes
2nd Legislature, Regular Senate Democrat Yavapai - (1912-30) (1931-66 Senate) Prescott Yavapai
2nd Legislature, 1st Special Senate Democrat Yavapai - (1912-30) (1931-66 Senate) Prescott Yavapai
2nd Legislature, 2nd Special Senate Democrat Yavapai - (1912-30) (1931-66 Senate) Prescott Yavapai


Birth: Arizona Women's Hall of Fame biography, AZ death record:  Sacramento (sic), CA; Cemetery:  Find A Grave Memorial 21468411 created by: Hollie Casey, record added: Sep 10, 2007; Death: AZ death record, death notice:  "Woman Solon in 2nd Legislature is Dead."  Tucson Daily Citizen, December 17, 1948 p. 4

PRESCOTT, Dec. 17.  (AP) - Mrs. Frances Willard Munds, 82, pioneer Arizonian and member of the second state legislature, died at her home here Thursday.

Mrs. Munds had lived in Arizona since the 1880's.  She was a school teacher and one of Arizona's original workers for women's suffrage.

She is survived by her husband John L. Munds, cattleman and former Yavapai county sheriff....