Friday, October 22, 2010

Easton Political Equality Club

Right next door to Greenwich is an even more rural town called Easton. Most people think of Easton as the home of Grandma Moses, if they think of it at all. It is also home to Willard Mountain, the Washington County Fair and the first suffrage group in Washington County, the Easton Political Equality Club.

Chloe Sisson- circa 1880
 From 1891 to 1917 the Easton Political Equality Club had a mission- to prove to people that women, as citizens of the United States of America, deserved the right to vote. Like the "good wives" they were, Lucy Allen, Chloe Sisson and the ladies of the Easton PEC used their influence as wives & mothers, neighbors & friends, to convince many men in the area to vote in favor of female suffrage. This tireless effort culminated on November 6, 1917 when male voters all across New York approved the measure guaranteeing the right to vote to citizens of the state regardless of sex. The measure passed statewide by about 80,000 votes, in Washington County by 188 votes & in Easton by 18 votes. It would be another 3 years before the 19th Amendment would be ratified.

The women of the Easton PEC continued to serve their communities through the library, the grange, the school board, and a book club. We owe a debt of gratitude for all of the women, local & national, who paved the way for equality at the polls. Don't forget to vote!

If you would like to know more about the Easton Political Equality Club and the local suffrage movement, Teri Gay, author of Strength Without Compromise: Womanly Influence and Political Identity in Turn-of-the-Twentieth Century Rural Upstate New York (ISBN 9780984221509), will be speaking at the United Church in Greenwich on Monday, November 1, 2010 @ 7:00pm.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Washington County was once Charlotte County

Charlotte, Princess Royal- 1769
Some of you out there may know that Washington County used to be part of a larger area called Charlotte County, which grew out of Albany County in 1772 while we were still under British rule. I've always heard that the "Charlotte" was Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III who ruled the British Empire while we struggled to gain independence. However, recently I have read that the "Charlotte" is in fact the daughter of the afore mentioned king & queen. Two books about Rensselaer County, which was also once part of Charlotte County, state that eldest daughter Charlotte Augusta Matilda, Princess Royal was the inspiration for the county name.

This got me thinking about whether there were ever, or still are, any other Charlotte counties in the US. According to Wikipedia there are no other defunct Charlotte counties, but there are two current ones. Charlotte County, Virginia is aparently named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III. So is Charlotte County, Florida... but in a round-about way. Carlos Bay was renamed Charlotte Harbor by the British. The county was named after the harbor, which was named after the queen... Confused yet?

So... How many counties are named after George Washington you might ask?

Washington is the most popular county name in the country. Thirty-one states have a county named after our first president. (Louisianna has one though it is called a "parish". Alaska does not, but it would be called a borough.) The next closest is Jefferson County with 26. All of them appear to be named after our third president. Then it gets complicated...

There are 25 counties named Franklin, 24 named Jackson & 24 more named Lincoln. They are obviously named after Benjaimn Franklin, Andrew Jackson & Abraham Lincoln. Right? Not exactly. Franklin County, Idaho is named after Mormon apostle Franklin D. Richards. Franklin County, Texas is named after Judge Benjamin Cromwell Franklin. (Doesn't it sound like he was at least named after the founding father?) Jackson County, Georgia was named after Revolutionary War veteran & govenor James Jackson. So, it looks like Ben & Andy are tied for third.

What about Abe? Out of twenty-four Lincoln counties only 17 are named for our 16th president. Five Lincoln counties in Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee are named for Major General Benjamin Lincoln who accepted the surrender of Cornwallis after the Battle of Yorktown. Lincoln County, South Dakota is named after Lincoln County, Maine which is named after a city in England.

Who, if anyone, beat out Honest Abe for fourth place...
(James) Madison County- 20
(Henry) Clay County- 18
(Richard) Montgomery County- 18
(James) Monroe County- 17
(Francis) Marion County- 17

I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The White Swan Hotel

The corner of Main Street and Washington Square/ Salem Street has always been the heart of the village of Greenwich. In 1810, when Greenwich was Union Village, David Whipple built a tavern on the northwest corner. In 1851, the wood frame building was replaced by a modern brick structure. It no longer catered to the "demon rum" as the Temperance Movement was sweeping through the area. Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, visited the temperance house on July 4, 1852.

Shortly thereafter, however, the building came under new management. The new Union House was up and running and alcohol was back on the menu. Over the next 70 plus years the business would continue to operate under various owners and names- the Blakeley House, the Hamilton House... Until June 30, 1926 when it re-opened as the White Swan Hotel with updated hot & cold plumbing and new floors. The new name came from the White Swan bottled water company of Fort Edward, NY.

The White Swan was a major business in the village until February 13, 1971 when fire destroyed the three story edifice. The restaurant, bar and movie theater that were such an integral part of life in this small community were gone. Also lost were three men, Gail Gilchrist, Edward A. Tefft, Sr. and Raymond W. Worden who died of smoke inhalation on the second floor. A month later, the site was cleared and replaced by a small brick bank. The unimposing structure still houses a bank today, Trustco.

I recently received a package in the mail from DP Edeline of San Pedro, CA. In it were some photographs and documents related to the Fuller/Parkerson families. One of the photographs is shown here... The White Swan Hotel in 1961.