Notable Geneva Women

March 16th, 2018

By Karen Osburn, Archivist

Recently I have become interested in notable Genevans, people who stood/stand out in the crowd for their actions, their work, their talent or their intellect.  It isn’t an easy choice when you are trying to pick between entrepreneurs, developers, scientists, artists, educators, philanthropists and business leaders.  There are a lot of folks who have their favorite Geneva person, like Elizabeth Blackwell, Red Dwyer, Arthur Dove, Jedidiah Chapman, Art Kenny, Bishop Hobart, Elizabeth Smith Miller or Cleo Cameron.

However, with the exception of Elizabeth Blackwell, Cleo Cameron, Anne Fitzhugh Miller and Elizabeth Smith Miller most people are hard pressed to name any of our notable women. Who are some of the women who made their presence known in Geneva and beyond its borders?  There are many more than you may be aware of, let’s meet some of them.

painting of a woman

Elizabeth Stryker Ricord

Elizabeth Stryker Ricord (1788-1865)  provided education for young women in a boarding school called the Geneva Female Seminary located in row houses number 387, 391 and 395.  She taught subjects like mathematics, science, and foreign languages to young women who would otherwise be learning needlepoint, sketching and music.  Her book, Elements of the Philosophy of the mind, was said to be the first textbook of psychology written by a woman for women students.

While not born in Geneva, Maria Remington Hemiup (1832 – 1911) was a long time resident who took an active part in public affairs.  In early life she was interested and active in the Universalist church where her father was a minister, and later in life she was an active and enthusiastic supporter of woman’s suffrage. She was a charter member of the Geneva Political Equality Club and on numerous occasions her home on Genesee Street, which she designed, host suffrage gatherings.  An independent thinker she spent much of her time researching.  She wrote two books and numerous articles beginning around 1866.  At the time her books attracted considerable attention, her first book, published in 1886, dealt with her reasoning in connection with thermotics and was entitled the “Law of Heat”.  Her second book appeared in 1907 under the title “Our World, the Earth a Revolving Engine with a Central Propelling Power.”

photograph of a woman looking down

Sarah Hopkins Bradford

Sarah Hopkins Bradford was a leader in charitable work and village improvement.  She wrote a history of the Village of Geneva that was published in the 1862-1863 Ontario County Business Directory, and biographies on Christopher Columbus and Peter the Great, but one of her most important works was Harriet Tubman, the Moses of Her People first published in 1869.

Rhoda Palmer, (1816-1919) who lived to be more than one hundred years old, was the only woman to sign the Declaration of Sentiments at the first suffrage convention held in Seneca Falls in 1848, and live to cast her vote when New York State gave women the right to vote in 1917.  An ardent supporter of women’s rights she was friends with Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller.  Rhoda died in 1919 at the age of 103.

Carrie Collins,(18??-1926), was the owner and builder of Belhurst Castle and builder of Collins Music Hall at 459 S. Main St. She was an independent woman and surprisingly anti-suffrage!

In 1939, Jean MacKay Henrich designed the Veterans Memorial and sculpted the Lady of Peace in Pulteney Park.  Though she was born in Nova Scotia and obtained her degrees from The Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Buffalo, she will always be remembered in Geneva for her beautiful statue in Pulteney Park

There are so many women who have contributed to the past, present and future of our City it is hard to include them here, but I will end with few more names that we should know.

Helen Maney, an educator, was the first woman elected Mayor in the City of Geneva and she served as Mayor from 1974 to 1979.  Joanne Wisor was the second woman to serve as Mayor of Geneva. She was in office from 1996 to 1999.  Marion S. Whelan served as the director of the School of Practical Nursing.  She was also a member of the DAR, and Zonta Club.  Today the nursing program at Geneva General Hospital is named for her. Lucille Mallard, Lillian Collins, and Agnes Slosson Lewis are/were all strong, independent women who are a part of Geneva History.  We should always remember them.

2 responses to “Notable Geneva Women”

  1. Excellent work. If you ever do men, don’t forget S.K. Nester, Harold Nester and Byron Nester. I have tried so hard to save the little that remains of their memory. Regarding the voting for the Incubator, I tried but it was impossible. Perhaps I was doing something wrong, but the only places I noticed said “tweet” and “share.” No way to vote. Sorry

  2. I will be presenting my book about mothers and daughters in the 19th century Finger Lakes region May 4. I’d love to hear more about your research on women, and your thoughts on the latest book about Elizabeth Blackwell.

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