Thursday, June 23, 2011

Susan B. On Trial

While I was sitting here re-reading a little article in NAHO published in the Spring of 1984, I realized that last week was the 138th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony's trial for illegal voting.

Susan B. (who lived with her family in Battenville & Center Falls here in the Town of Greenwich before becoming a teacher) decided to test the waters of the newly ratified 14th Amendment by voting in the interim elections of 1872. The 14th Amendment contains a citizenship clause that essentially overturned the Dred Scott decision of 1857 (which stated that slaves or decedents of slaves were not, nor could ever be citizens on the US). The citizenship clause says "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of the citizens of the United States." This amendment laid the groundwork for the 15th Amendment that states the right to vote cannot be denied based on race.

Nothing in the 14th or 15th Amendment said anything about sex. So, Anthony & some like-minded ladies of the suffrage movement decided to take a chance. They wanted to vote because they were citizens of the US. They were able to cast their ballots in the interim election of 1872, but were arrested. Would their votes be valid? A court would decide.

Susan B. Anthony in 1877
On June 17, 1873, after 2 days, Judge Ward Hunt instructed the jury to find Miss Anthony guilty. Judge Hunt's interpretation of the citizenship clause was that the right to vote was a State Constitutional issue & since NY did not allow women to vote, she could not vote. He fined her $100 which she refused to pay,  saying "May it please your Honor, I will never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty."

It would take another 44 years for New York (male) voters to grant equal suffrage to women. The nation would follow suit with the passage & ratification of the 19th Amendment (nicknamed the Susan B. Anthony Amendment) in 1920.

Little known fact- The last state to ratify the 19th Amendment was Mississippi in 1984!

Books to check out:
The Trial of Susan B. Anthony with an Introduction by Lynn Sherr- 9781591020998
An account of the proceedings on the trial of Susan B. Anthony at the Presidential election
in Nov. 1872- 9781425518288

Thursday, June 16, 2011

School Days

In honor of the upcoming graduation of the Greenwich Central School Class of 2011 (Go Witches!), I have pulled together some random school photographs and documents from my office.

Class of 1904 Commencement invitation send to Mr. Sylvester Hearn in Thomson

Greenwich High School football team 1923-24

Greenwich High School girl's basketball team 1931

Class of 1933

Class of 1951- Senior trip to NYC in March

Congratulations to the Class of 2011. I wish you happiness and success, in that order.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Back to my childhood...

I have finally reached the age where I can say "Thirty years ago, when I was a kid..." Songs I sang along with on my radio/cassette player are "classics". Books I loved are out of print (like Everybody Say Cheese by Betty Bates). Toys I played with, like the original Strawberry Shortcake, are now part of history.

Speaking of toys... Most of us from Greenwich  remember when the old chicken barn on Fiddler's Elbow Road in Middle Falls churned out wonderful cloth toys like the Velveteen Rabbit, Ratty and Mole from The Wind in the Willows, Puss in Boots and many more. Founded by John Gunther in 1973, the Toy Works, Inc. used the modern silk-screen process to re-imagine 19th century full color, cloth toys for children of a new era. With a focus on functional and decorative items for the home & now called Fiddler's Elbow (, the company is still in existence 38 years later.

As children, my younger sister & I both had a 6" Tabby Kitten from the Toy Works. At Christmas time, out came the 14" Sinterklaas with all the rest of the festive decorations. I had a Velveteen Rabbit that mom sewed together. I remember her having a hard time with it, even though she was & is an expert seamstress. She probably sewed & stuffed all of them because, not only were the toys available as "sew-it-yourself" kits, there was a once a year seconds sale. The weekend after Thanksgiving, mom would go to the sale at the factory & pick up seconds, remnants, prototypes... for a fraction of the cost. This sale has become a Thanksgiving tradition. My mom, my daughter & I still go over to Fiddler's Elbow for the sale, usually on Saturday (Friday can be a bit hardcore). Instead of cloth toys we buy hand towels to give as holiday gifts with homemade quick breads and cookies.

When I took the position of town historian in 2003 I was kind of surprised to find a 6" Tabby Kitten, a 14" Tabby Cat looking down at me from their perch atop one of the filing cabinets. It brought all of those childhood memories back & made me smile. A little while later I discovered some ephemera from the old Toy Works. So, here is a sample from the 1984 price list...

6" Tabby Kitten- unit price $3.00- sew-it-yourself kit $2.00
14" Tabby Cat & 14" Sinterklaas- unit price $8.75- sew-it-yourself kit $4.00
7.5" Ratty, Mole, Toad, Mr. Badger- unit price $4.50- sew-it-yourself kit $2.75
10" Velveteen Rabbit- unit price $5.00- sew-it-yourself kit $3.00
15" Puss in Boots- unit price $6.25- sew-it-yourself kit $2.75

Bunny, Green-eyed Kitten, Antique Teddy Bear, Tabby Kitten, Tabby Cat

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's in a (baby name? Part 3

As promised, some uncommon & odd girl names from the Town & Village of Greenwich birth records...

To start off, let's go with Latin. Quite a few uncommon ones here.
Generous- of noble birth
Flossie- flowering- diminutive of Florence
Mertie- evergreen sacred to Venus as a symbol of love- diminutive of Myrtle
Lucina- light- variant of Luncinda/Lucy
Retta- speaker- variant of Rhetta

Leitha Cronin- Witches Basketball- 1930
 Betris- bringer of joy- variant of Beatriz/Beatrix/Beatrice

The Greeks weigh in-
Ione- person of Ionia
Leitha- forgetfulness- variant of Letha/Lethia

Jerusha- inheritance
Rena- joy
Wanita*-God is gracious or pale skinned- variant of Juanita

Habla Espanol?
Verda- truth
Wanita*-God is gracious or pale skinned- variant of Juanita

On to the Scotts-
Iona- from the island of Iona
Melvina- gentle lady

American- What? Really?
Leola- lioness- variant of Leona/Leala
Enola- possibly "alone" spelled backward- modern

Anneke- gracious, merciful- diminutive of Ann

That leaves me with a few to scratch your head over-
Alveretta, Oviretta, Orvelia, Bellzora & Delsie.

Alveretta is probably an attempt to name the poor girl after her father, who's name was Albert (Why not Alberta?). The parents could have changed the "b" to a "v" themselves, or the person recording the name was confused & wrote what they thought they heard.

Oviretta & Orvelia were also, probably attempts at keeping names going in the family. Or maybe a lack of (or too much) imagination. I dislike both of these. Give the girls their own names!

Bellzora, if you take it apart can mean "beautiful dawn". Zora is Slavic meaning dawn & Bell/Belle/Bella means beautiful. I like Zora, but the whole thing is kind of a mouthful.

Delsie? I'm stumped. It's pretty though.

*I'm thinking I should give it to the Hebrews. The language has been around a lot longer than Spanish. Plus, the Jews probably brought the name with them when they migrated to the Iberian peninsula.

Thanks again to
& for the more unusual suspects-