Signature moment Lily Dale women’s suffrage marker unveiled

OBSERVER Photos by M.J. Stafford Members of the Lily Dale Woman’s Day Events Committee, along with Bonnie Kane Lockwood, representing Gov. Kathy Hochul (left), pose with a new historical marker commemorating a visit by suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw to Lily Dale in 1891.

A marker naming Lily Dale as one of 200 sites on the National Votes for Women Trail was dedicated Friday.

Much of the community came out for a parade before the marker dedication in Melrose Park. Many women donned early 1900s-style clothing in a nod to the suffragists who agitated for women to get the right to vote, finally granted nationwide in 1920.

The marker commemorates a visit by two prominent suffragists, Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw, to Lily Dale in August 1891. They spoke at the nearby auditorium, reportedly drawing a crowd of 3,000.

“We are very proud of our history of women being very equal from the very beginning, not only in spiritualism but in the Lily Dale camp,” said Celeste Elliott, chair of the 2023 Lily Dale Women’s Day Event Committee, during her remarks. The marker unveiling was the centerpiece of 2023 Women’s Day in Lily Dale.

“Women in Lily Dale helped form the first fire department. We helped take down the trees and clear the land and build the houses, and the tents before they were permanent buildings,” she said.

Women shout support during the unveiling of a historical marker Friday, commemorating a visit by suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Anna Howard Shaw to Lily Dale in 1891.

Elliott added that Anthony came to Lily Dale through a close friendship with Marian Skidmore, who played a large role in founding of the camp and was prominent in the Chautauqua County suffragist community.

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell attended the ceremony, and Gov. Kathy Hochul sent her top Western New York representative, Bonnie Kane Lockwood.

Lockwood said Hochul couldn’t attend “due to scheduling demands, as you can imagine, as required of the first elected female governor of the state of New York.” Applause followed.

Lockwood added that the suffragists who spoke at Lily Dale might have asked, “What took so long?” for a female governor’s election.

Goodell said, “As we reflect back on where the women’s suffrage movement has been, and where we are now, we can recognize the incredible progress that’s been made, and the challenges –“

“Still to be made,” a women called out.

“Still to be made,” agreed Goodell. “Once again, a woman is helping with my speech,” he cracked.

Goodell presented certificates commemorating the marker unveiling day. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation funded the marker.


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