When Women Go to the Polls This Week, They Can Thank Fayetteville Resident

Nov 4, 2013

Matilda Joslyn Gage House and Museum in Fayetteville
Credit Hannah Warren/WAER News

Fayetteville locations such as Limestone Plaza and homes right on Genesee Street hold a prominent place in the history of women's voting rights.

The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation hosted a tour of notable women’s suffrage sites in Fayetteville this weekend. Despite the cold, almost 20 people came out for the tour, which went a few blocks up and down East Genesee Street.  

Historian Susan Boland hosted the tour, and focused on landmarks that were significant to the local women’s suffrage movement - like the Limestone Plaza, which was close to the center of the village, and was where many pro-suffrage speakers could set up a soap box.  Boland framed the tour through the activism and writing of one woman, who worked for women’s suffrage all the way up to the national level…

"Matilda Joslyn Gage was born in 1826 right around the time the Erie Canal opened.  She grew up in Cicero.  She lived her entire life in Onondaga County.  The Gage’s, she and her Husband henry moved here in 1854, to this house and she stayed here until her death in 1898.  Because she lived her so long, and during most of those years was in a top office of the national Women’s Suffrage Association, there’s as much women’s history here as any other place in the United States.”

As far as historians can tell from the records, Gage was the first woman in the country to legally vote when she and a group of local women ran for office and cast their ballots in the 1880 Fayetteville school board elections.  Boland says the tours are now an annual series, with the final tour for the season focusing on suffrage just before the November elections.