Helen Rich And St. Lawrence County Suffrage

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younghelenrich(1)When most people discuss the American woman’s suffrage movement they think of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  However, Helen Hinsdale Rich was the first woman to embrace the idea of woman’s suffrage in the North Country.

Learn more about Helen Rich when Bryan Thompson speaks at the St. Lawrence County Historical Association’s next Patricia Harrington Carson Brown Bag Lunch Series at noon on Thursday, November 20th at the Silas Wright House, 3 East Main St., Canton.  Brown Bag Lunches are free and open to the public.  Bring your own lunch and enjoy a beverage and dessert provided by SLCHA.

Helen Rich, born in Antwerp in 1827, was the wife of Richville native Moses Rich and a mother of three.  By the age of 35, she was a poet, and a public speaker active in temperance, woman’s rights and other reform causes.   During the Civil War, she was a public speaker all over St. Lawrence County campaigning to recruit soldiers for the Union. In 1892, Rich’s work for woman’s rights was held up beside that of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott. And in 1895, Rich was invited to present a poem for Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s 80th birthday party in Chicago.

Bryan Thompson was the recipient of a 2007 Hackman research fellowship at the NYS archives to study the career of Lt. Col. Benedict, commander of the St. Lawrence County Militia during the War of 1812.  In 2009 he was the recipient of the Bruce W. Dearstyne award from the NYS Board of Regents for excellence in the educational use of local government records.  He has authored over 30 articles on the history of the town of DeKalb, where he is municipal historian.

The Patricia Harrington Carson Brown Bag Lunch Series is a popular lunch time lecture series dedicated to the memory of Patricia Harrington Carson, who founded the series during her 24 years as a Trustee of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association.  Pat Carson was active on numerous SLCHA Committees, and was an article writer and an issue editor of the SLCHA’s history journal, The Quarterly.

The St. Lawrence County Historical Association at the Silas Wright House is open Tuesday through Saturday noon to 4 pm, Friday noon to 8 pm.  Admission to the museum is free; admission to the archives is free for members and children, $2.50 for college students, and $5 for the general public.  The St. Lawrence County Historical Association is located at 3 E. Main St., Canton.  Parking is available in back of the SLCHA, next to the museum’s main entrance.

The St. Lawrence County Historical Association is a membership organization open to anyone interested in St. Lawrence County history.  For more information, or to become a member, call the SLCHA at 315-386-8133 or e-mail info@slcha.org.

The Patricia Harrington Carson Brown Bag Lunch series is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.  Visit the SLCHA’s website, www.slcha.org, for more information on St. Lawrence County history.

One thought on “Helen Rich And St. Lawrence County Suffrage

  1. Maureen Coffey

    “… public speaker active in temperance …” Actually you will often find women in the suffrage movement also arguing against the dangers of alcohol. At the time the “masses” (esp. lowlier laborers) were made pliable by alcohol which often led them to spend their Friday pay in a spree before they even reached home that day or early Saturday morning. Children were mostly destitute because of it and their fathers’ examples would set the stage for the next generation being equally weak. Since these men (!) had to vote to give women the right to vote too, it often meant to try and “sober up” those men first …


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