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Greenwich fetes their most famous resident on her 200th birthday

Greenwich fetes their most famous resident on her 200th birthday

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200th birthday celebration

Cliff Oliver-Mealy and suffragist reenactor Tisha Dolton look at a book of suffragist songs, "Suffragist Sheet Music," during Saturday's celebration of Susan B. Anthony's 200th birthday. The event was held at the Greenwich Town Hall.

GREENWICH — Greenwich celebrated the 200th birthday of its most famous resident, Susan B. Anthony, on Saturday in the first of a series of events.

The celebration consisted of a historical overview of her life in the town, a presentation of a congressional resolution in her honor, and refreshments that were popular when the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was ratified in 1920.

Anthony was born on Feb. 15, 1820.

Ballot box

Jeannie Pemrick, a volunteer with the Washington County Historical Society, stands behind a 1920s ballot box (on floor). Women who gained the right to vote on the ratification of the 19th Amendment deposited their ballots in such boxes.

About 50 people gathered in the Greenwich Town Court room for the event, the first in a series marking the centennial of women’s suffrage planned for the area this year. Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, noted that she could not do what she does if not for the work of Anthony and other suffragists.

Greenwich Town Historian Sandy McReynolds, reading from a script by Debi Craig, gave a slideshow on the Anthony family’s time in town. Susan B. Anthony was born in Adams, Massachusetts and moved to Greenwich with her family in 1826. The family lived in the area until 1845 when they left for Rochester. Susan returned to Washington County several times over the next 60 years to visit and lecture on women’s suffrage.

Susan B. Anthony childhood home

Susan B. Anthony's childhood home is located in the hamlet of Battenville in the southern Washington County town of Greenwich. 

Although many of the buildings where the Anthonies lived and worked are gone, Susan’s childhood home in Battenville is still standing. The long-vacant, deteriorating house was taken over by the state several years ago. Woerner and Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, recently secured $750,000 in state funds to stabilize it and begin repairs. Once an attached apartment is habitable, the hope is to hire a caretaker who can restore the house’s interior, Woerner said. It may become a “virtual museum” that can be visited remotely.

The Anthonies were abolitionists, and Susan was also active in the temperance movement. She is best-known, however, for her advocacy of women’s rights, especially suffrage. Reenactor Tisha Dolton, dressed as a suffragist from the 1910s, performed several songs promoting votes for women.

Michael Bittel, president of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce, presented a congressional resolution from U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment and the legacy of Susan B. Anthony on her 200th birthday.

The event was sponsored by the Town of Greenwich with assistance from the Greenwich-Easton Historical Society, the Washington County Historical Society, and local volunteers. Greenwich Town Supervisor Don Ward said planning for the event began in early January.

Lemon pound cake

Evelyn Rybaltowski serves slices of lemon pound cake Saturday during Greenwich's celebration of Susan B. Anthony's 200th birthday. Lemon pound cake and pineapple upside-down cake, also on the menu, were popular in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified.

Other commemorative events will be held March 12 at the Salem Courthouse, when McReynolds and Craig will repeat their presentation; a family social with musician Bob Warren on Aug. 18 in Mowry Park; and a presentation on the local suffrage movement on Nov. 2, the night before the general election, at Hubbard Hall in Cambridge.

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