HORNELL — More than 100 years later, a voice of the suffrage movement continues to ring true and relevant today.
On Saturday, Anna Cadogan Etz, an influential leader of women in their fight to be granted the vote in New York State, was honored for her work and wise words that convinced a state that equality was was a moral necessity.
"The men of New York state are better than its laws," she urged in a 1910s Jamestown speech.
Saturday's ceremony was made possible by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, an organization that honors New York State history with the placement of one of their well-known blue and gold historical place markers bearing Etz's name at the Hornell Public Library.
A crowd gathered in front of the library was greeted by City Historian Collette Cornish, who recalled the life and times of Etz.
"Her contributions and voice helped changed the lives of women in America," she said. "As we approach the centennial anniversary of the United States 19th amendment guaranteeing all women the right to vote, we have the dedication and perseverance of women such as Anna Cadogan Etz to thank for our right to be heard."
The ceremony honoring Etz was also made possible by the tireless research of Steuben County League of Women Voters members Rachel Treichler, Lindley, Martha Treichler, Town Historian Catherine Pierce, Hornell Public Library Director Alice Taychert, and other library staff.
"The more we learned about her, the more impressed we became. She was really one of the leaders of the women's suffrage movement in this state," said Rachel Treichler. "Hornell played a very prominent role in the movement, and this library even hosted a convention in May of 1917, not long before the vote giving women the vote."
Etz was a lifelong resident of Hornell, living most of her life on Genesee Street, where the marker was placed on Saturday. Her passion for equality would stir men and women to the side of suffrage in the 1910s.
It wasn't uncommon for Etz to speak in front of hundreds, or even 1,000 people at rallies and public events. At one affair in Buffalo, she delivered remarks to 800, urging men that expanded rights for women, meant better conditions for men.
"In states where women have the vote, it has meant a clean up," she said.
From 1914 until women were granted the vote nationally in 1920, her statewide syndicated column "Suffrage Notes and Comments" was considered a leading voice in media.
For her work, she was recognized by the National League of Women Voters NY Roll of Honor in 1931.
Despite having widely felt impacts and a measure of celebrity, her work was also felt locally. According to her 1953 obituary, she was instrumental in establishing the Hornell Children's Home, which has served the community, first as an orphanage, then a day care center for more than 100 years.
Etz and her husband Charles Wellington Etz also made major donations to the Hornell Public Library, establishing the children's reading room in memory of their son David. She was also fondly remembered for her role as an adult educator following World War I.
A letter from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation lauding Etz as a deserving candidate for the memorial, was read by Hornell Deputy Mayor Jessica Cleveland.
To learn more about Etz and her inspiring life and times in Hornell, stop by the Hornell Public Library.