I have to begin with Susan B. Anthony speaking in Gorham on June 9, 1873. The site is unknown as well as the number who attended.
Saturday, October 25, 1913 an article appeared in the Geneva Daily Times that a political, equality club had been formed with the assistance of Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Beard from Geneva. Mrs. Nellie (Nettie) Aldrich was chairman. The officers for the Gorham Political Equality Club were : President – Mrs. W.S. Thompson, Vice President – C.L. Crosier, Secretary – Mrs. Ray Perry, Corresponding Secretary – Miss Margaret Valentine, Treasurer- Mrs. C.N. Pettit. Twenty ladies were present. Mrs. Lewis and Mrs. Beard added their names to the Gorham club. There were 14 charter members.
Executive Committee of Ontario County (2/21/1917) stated that Mrs. Bessie Hershey was chairman of the suffrage committee which was listed under Presidents of clubs. Under Captains was listed; 1 st. E.D. Mrs. W.C. Thompson, (Gorham), 2nd. E.D. Mrs. Anna B. Sidman, (R.F.D. Canandaigua), 3rd E.D. Mrs. George Fitch, (Rushville).
The following from Gorham were listed on the 1919-1920 membership list for the Ontario County League of Women’s Voters:
Anna Babbit • Helen Powell • Mrs. Hannah Babbit • Mrs. Melius • Mrs. Elizabeth Hershey • Mrs. Maude Babbit• Mrs. W.S. Thompson • Mrs. Anna S. Sidman
Miss Mary Valentine is listed as the corresponding secretary in the first Political, Equality Club in Gorham. She passed away March 19, 1918. Stated in her obituary,” She was a great reader and interested in all topics of the day, having made the remark once that she was glad to have lived to see the time come when women had the right to vote, even if she could not. Miss Valentine was one of the first in this vicinity to stand for suffrage. She advocated women’s rights about sixty years ago and was a friend of Mrs. Miller and her daughter, Anna of Geneva, who were among the early suffrage women. She was a teacher for over 40 years.”
Mrs. W.C. Thompson is very prominent in many of these clubs as well as the Gorham W.C.T.U. She was Mrs. Jeanette Kilpatrick Pybus Thompson. She had a daughter, Helen Pybus who was a 1916 graduate of William Smith College in teacher education. Helen was involved in many activities on campus such as THE William Smith Association, Press Club and the tennis team. We have wondered if there might be a connection with Helen, being on the William Smith campus, and Geneva Suffrage groups.
The following is a list of women whose names have been included in the above named groups with their maiden names capitalized.
Mrs. Nellie GRAINGER Aldrich • Mrs. Nettie KILPATRICK Pybus Thompson • C.L. LANE Crosier • Anna M, SANDERS Melius • Bessie NEWELL Ferguson • Mrs. Mable WILSON Fitch
We would like to thank the Geneva Historical Society for their generous sharing of materials.
– Barb Lippincott and Sharon Cornelius
Town of Gorham Historical Society