Miriam Wallace was born near Sparks, off Highway 95, in a log cabin. She attended Salado College and Baylor Female College at Belton. After the Fergusons married, the couple moved to the “Honeymoon Cottage” on Penelope Street in Belton. Aunt Laura, long-time maid for the Ferguson family, came from the farm to help Miriam. Aunt Laura’s son, Bud, was the family’s butler and yard-man. Miriam planted zinnias, hollyhocks, and irises around the house.
Jim Ferguson’s ambitions later took him to Temple where, against Miriam’s wishes, he built a home at 518 North Seventh Street. The Victorian house on a double lot had a cupola, screened-in porches, and a big kitchen. Miriam soon had a flourishing garden in Temple. Jim called it his “castle.”
During Jim Ferguson’s tenure as governor, several important measures were passed including aid to rural education, compulsory school attendance, prison reform, and improvement in highways. However, his political career was troubled with rumors of corruption. Although he was popular with the voters, especially tenant farmers, he accomplished little in his second term. He was indicted on counts of misappropriation of funds and embezzlement, and was impeached by the Texas Senate.
“Ma” Ferguson decided to enter politics and ran for governor in 1924. Her slogan was “Two Governors for the Price of One.” Her administration was similarly marked by controversy and accusations of bribery. She granted pardons to criminals at the rate of 100 per month! Although she was defeated in her election bid in 1926, she was elected to a second term in 1932 during the Depression.