Viola Pettus was an African-American woman, born about 1886, who lived in Marathon, Brewster County, Texas. Viola is remembered in Texas for her courageous work as a nurse during the 1918 flu pandemic. Her legendary service — even to members of the Ku Klux Klan — formed the basis for one of the plot lines in American Night: The Ballad of Juan José, a play by Richard Montoya, a member of the Culture Clash performance group.
Viola was married to Benjamin Pettus. They had three daughters: Ura, Hazel, and Dorothy. The US Census lists the Pettus family as living in Justice Precinct 3, Brewster County, Texas, in 1910 and 1920.
Sometime prior to 1929, Viola and Benjamin Pettus opened their home in Marathon, Texas, to African-American and Seminole children of the community who were denied education in the segregated school system of Brewster County.
- Montoya, Richard; Culture Clash (2010). "American Night: The Ballad of Juan José". OSF 75th Season. Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
- US Census (1910) Census Place: Justice Precinct 3, Brewster, Texas; Roll T624_1533; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 6; Image: 608.
- US Census (1920) Census Place: Justice Precinct 3, Brewster, Texas; Roll T625_1781; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 14; Image: 1071.
- Glover, Mark (2008). "African-American school in Alpine seeks historic recognition". The Big Bend Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-08-16.
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