A sign of history: Marker spotlights women’s voting effort

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen Pictured are members of The League of Women Voters dressed to celebrate the occasion. From left to right: Irene Strychalski, Nicki Schoenl, Judi Lutz Woods, and Mary Croxton.

One of the most important members of Chautauqua County history was recognized with a monument in the City of Dunkirk recently outside the residence she once called home.

Elnora Monroe Babcock, a leader in the American women’s suffrage movement, now has a monument in her memory located at 627 Washington Ave., Dunkirk. The monument was revealed Wednesday after speeches from Dunkirk historian Diane Andrasik, Jamestown Community College History Professor Traci Langworthy, and an official declaration read by Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas.

The proclamation read, “I, Mayor Wilfred Rosas, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the City of Dunkirk, and on behalf of the Dunkirk Common Council, do hereby deem it an honor and pleasure to pay tribute to Elnora Monroe Babcock for her work in promoting the preservation of women’s history.”

The monument was approved many years ago, but because of the pandemic and supply chain issues, it was not made until 2022. The marker was delivered last fall and held for nicer weather to allow for a crowd to gather, which it did. Close to 50 people were in attendance at the dedication.

“This is dedicated specifically to the women who fought for the suffragette movement,” said Andrasik. “The name Elnora … means ‘shining light.’ It is so appropriate and so resonant a name, since her efforts to bring the right to vote to women was an effort to bring light to society at that time. That effort resonates even today.”

From left, Jamestown Community College History Professor Traci Langworthy, Dunkirk historian Diane Andrasik, and Dunkirk Mayor Wilfred Rosas spoke at the dedication of a monument in honor of Elnora Babcock recently in the City of Dunkirk.

Among the guests in attendance included a group of The League of Women Voters dressed to celebrate the occasion, including Irene Strychalski, Nicki Schoenl, Judi Lutz Woods, and Mary Croxton.

Rosas said of the importance of the event, “These are things that are important in our community. This is part of a national trail … and to know we have one of them in the city of Dunkirk, that’s something for our community to be proud of.”

“This marker, aside from being a part of local pride, is a stop on the National Votes for Women Trail,” Langworthy added.

Langworthy was the one to nominate Babcock for the monument, which was funded by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. It is the first such marker in Chautauqua County, and one of approximately 250 across the United States.

To conclude her speech, Langworthy read a letter on behalf of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. “With this marker, the Dunkirk community illuminates the important contributions made by Elnora Babcock through her steadfast advocacy for women’s suffrage,” the letter stated. “May this National Votes for Women Trail marker stand as an important reminder of your history, now and for future generations.”

A display highlighting Babcock and all her accomplishments will be shown at the Dunkirk Historical Museum through most of June. To learn more, visit the museum located at 513 Washington Ave., within walking distance of the monument


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