compiled by G. Douglas Clarke, Alfred Historian.
"Thanks to Wellsville Historian, Mary Rhodes, for coming across some of the articles and bringing them to my attention!"--G. Douglas Clarke.
Wellsville Daily Reporter of Oct 13, 1887:
The women at Alfred Centre asserted their rights yesterday and voted at the municipal election held at that place. Ten ballots were offered and received by the election officers who declared that the legal opinions gathered and published by counsel for the woman's suffrage party had convinced them of the legal right of women to vote.
Wellsville Daily Reporter October 25, 1887:
The Alfred Women Voters Under indictment and under arrest for using the Ballot Box
The grand jury which finished its work at Belmont on Monday, among the other work, presented indictments against the women who voted in Alfred Centre, for illegal voting. The names of the parties indicted are Lucy Barber, Susan E Larkin, Arminda Heseltine, Abigail A. Allen, Ann Thomas, Alice Satterlee, Emily Green, Abby K. Witter, Eleanor J. Potter, Eloise Livermore, Abby Lewis.
The first named lady is the one who voted in the election two years ago and who after swimming the gauntlet of the U. S. Commissioner was discharged and then failed of indictment before the grand jury last June which had her case under consideration. Her apparent success in this escaping punishment encouraged several of her sisters in the cause to follow in her footsteps, so they offered and swore in their votes at the recent corporation election held in Alfred Centre, to the number of ten. Mrs. Barber did not live within the corporate limits and therefore did not vote, but when it was decided to proceed against the others District Attorney Fuller secured an order to re-submit her case with the others. The grand jury seems to have been of a different mould from the former – or had a less sentimental foreman. Warrants were served on the ladies Monday and they went to Belmont this morning on NO. 3, to appear before the court and give bail. It is thought they will be brought to trial at the November term, and a settlement made of the question.
It is but just to remark that the ladies indicted embrace representatives of the very best of Alfred citizenship, and that they have got into this position from the belief that they were fully entitled to the privilege. Some of them have visibly weakened in this belief and we imagine all would gladly withdraw from the dilemma in which they find themselves, and would willingly abandon the path of martyrdom for the benefit of their sex which leads through indictment, avert trial, and probably conviction.
The ladies above mentioned appeared in court to-day and their trial was set for the next term of court. They were allowed their freedom on their own recognizance.
In Book 3 of Sessions Minutes, p. 511 (at Allegany County Courthouse, Belmont NY), I found:
The People vs. Lucy Barber
The defendant having been indicted at the October Oyer and Terminer for illegal voting and having been arraigned and entered a plea of not guilty and having been sent to this court for trial and being now in the open court and trial duly moved by the Dist. Atty. The following jury was taken and duly sworn to try the same.
1. R. J. Bracket 7. Warner A. Farnum
2. Wesley Irish 8. John B. Parker
3. Albert Doolittle 9. Frank McCall
4. S. P. Lowe 10. Washington Moses
5. John Baker 11. Lewis Crandall
6. H.A. Bennett 12. Fred Meier
Witnesses for the People Witnesses for the Def.
1. Isaac M. Langworthy 1. Lucy Barber
2. H.P. Saunders
3. Albert Langworthy
4. Augustus K. Ryno
After hearing Frank S. Smith Esq. of Counsel for the Deft. And Rufus Scott Esq of Counsel for the People the court charged the jury who retired in charge of a sworn officer and after due deliberation returned into open court and rendered a verdict of guilty.
On p. 513, I found:
The defendant having been indicted at the October Oyer and Terminer for illegal voting and having been tried and found guilty. Being now in the court awaiting sentence and sentence duly moved by the Dist. Atty. The Court sentenced the said defendant to be confined in the County jail of Allegany County for the period of one day."
[a demurrer to the indictment which would have withdrawn the plea of not guilty, was disallowed, so the plea of not guilty stood]
It is surprising that only Lucy was tried. Why?
Most, if not all, of these women were members of the 1st Seventh Day Baptist Church of Alfred, as these entries from a membership book show:
Lucy Sweet Barber, daughter of Spencer and Susan Maxson Sweet, b. Alfred May 8 1833 ad 1861, died Alfred May 1901, married William R. Barber, son of Hosea, dismissed Jan 26 1878. (Membership Records of Alfred Seventh Day Baptist Church, Ilou Sanford, p. 6)
Susan E. Larkin – Susanna E. Crandall d/o Judge Clark and Amelia Vincent b. Alfred Feb 24 ’30, ad abt ’45 d Alfred May 2 ’91 m. May 28 ’54 Ethan P. Larkin p. 32
Lois Arminda Heseltine d/o Edmund Livermore b Brookfield Jan 6 ’32 ad Aug 5 ’76dis 2nd Alfred May 29 ’97 d Alfred June 17 1905 m. Albert Heseltine s/o Jesse & Cordelia Clarke (p. 47)
Albert and Arminda Livermore Heseltine’s son, Frederick, was dismissed to 2nd Alfred May 23, 1897
Abigail A. Allen d/o Abel and Abigail Lull Maxson b Feb 3 ’24 ad abt ’49, d Alfred Oct 26, 1902 m Jul 12 ’49 Jonathan Allen s/o Abram (p. 1)
Ann Crandall [Thomas] d/o Isaiah Jr. and Martha Saunders b Aug 9 ’23 ad abt ’40 d Alfred Oct 23, ‘1914 m Sep 9 ’41 Rowland A Thomas s/o Rowland P. (p. 29)
Alice Satterlee: Wm H. Satterlee s/o Dea Horace W and Melissa R Gavitt . . . m June 23, ’87 Alice L. Livermore d/o Rev. Leander E (p. 75)
Emily Sherman Green, d/o David and Minerva Horton Sherman, b. Norway NY Aug 19, 1827, ad Jan 9 1875, d. Alfred May 26 1896 m. W. Union NY Mar 16 1848 John Chandler Green (p.40)
Mrs. Abby K. Witter d/o John Edwards and Harriet fr/ Genesee b Little Genesee Jul 7 ’32, ad 1874 dis Jan 1900 d Oct 25 1916 m Alfred Jul 8 ’52 Charles H. Witter s/o S Porter d. Andersonville Prison Camp Sep ’64 (p. 98)
Eleanor J. Sheppard Potter ad. 1854, d Hornell 1912 m. Jul 11 1853 2nd w/o Col. Nathan (p. 69)
Abby R. West Lewis b. Grafton NY may 10, 1832 ad Mar 11 1882 d. Chicago Feb 19 1909 m. 2nd w/o Rev. C.M. Lewis (p. 55)
Eloise Livermore – certainly there were plenty of Livermores in Alfred Seventh Day Baptist Church.
Of this incident, it is written:
“Lucy [Barber] was an ardent suffragette. Those of us today who take voting so casually often do not realize what moral stamina it required to espouse the cause in the early days. Women who worked for the vote were reviled, put in jail, and made to look ludicrous by the most insulting cartoons. Alfred contained an ardent group of suffragettes, composed of faculty wives and the like; and they decided they were going to vote in the impending presidential election . . . they marched in a body to the polls and before the astounded men knew what was happening, they had snatched ballots, marked them, and stuffed them into the ballot boxes.
"The women were arrested and put in jail for illegal voting and disturbing the peace. Their husbands promptly bailed them out, all but Lucy Sweet Barber, who spent a night in the Alfred jail, and thus became a martyr to the cause . . . the women were taken to Belmont [the county seat] to stand trial. The court was filled with excited spectators. Everyone in Alfred who could possibly arrange it took a day off to see what was going to happen to the leading ladies of the community.
"But as the proceedings began, the judge ruled that before they could proceed with the trial, they must first prove that they were women. This so horrified the good men of Alfred that the charges were immediately dropped.
"The martyrdom of Lucy Sweet Barber reached the ears of the suffragettes in New York City, who felt that this brave woman should be recognized. They invited her to a banquet at the Waldorf Astoria to be given in her honor, would pay train fare, etc. Now as I said before, Lucy kept a farm. Her husband was a small ineffectual man and Lucy did the farm work, or most of it . . . This was considered an eccentricity or even worse in those days when it was immodest for a woman to show what she stood on, let alone what she sat on. But Lucy declined the invitation to New York saying that she had to stay home and do the chores. One can’t help but wonder what impact Lucy would have had on the New York suffragettes, let alone on the Waldorf Astoria.”
(Helen Cottrell, Alfred History – A Sketch, Alfred Historical Society Monograph #2, Feb. 7, 1968, p. 2)
In her obituary, it is said of Abigail Allen, that “Mrs. Allen was one of the pioneers in the state of New York for the advancement of the political rights of women, and counted among her intimate friends the leading spirits in this movement, Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and others. At the reception given to Susan B. Anthony, at Washington, on her eightieth birthday, Mrs. Allen was by special invitation an honored guest . . . It is a striking fact that her old friend and fellow laborer in the cause of equal rights for women, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, should have died on the same day with Mrs. Allen. (L. C. R., Sabbath Recorder, Volume 58, No. 44, Nov. 3, 1902, page 692)