Weekend celebration pays tribute to first women to vote in NYS
(LISLE, NY) –. A village-wide series of events were held the first weekend in June to celebrate and honor the first women to vote in New York State. One hundred years ago this year, the “Ladies of Lisle” cast ballots in a special election to determine whether their town should approve the sale of alcohol. On June 1st, a historical marker in their honor was unveiled in its permanent location – the sign debuted in January, but the ground was too frozen for installation – followed by walking tours of the historic village and two receptions, one “dry” and one “wet.”
“Until last year, this was probably Broome County’s best-kept historical secret,” said Roger Luther, Executive Director of the Preservation Association of the Southern Tier (PAST). “People are now learning what happened here and we hope that Lisle becomes a destination for those traveling New York’s ‘Path Through History.’”
PAST helped organize the event with the Broome-Tioga Suffrage Anniversary Committee, a group assembled to celebrate the centennial of women winning the right to vote (2017) and the 100th anniversary of the ensuing first votes by women locally (2018). The two organizations also spearheaded the January historical marker event – held 100 years to the day of the Ladies’ historic vote – as well as a re-creation of a 1913 suffrage parade and convention last October.
“I’m amazed by how much interest there is in our local suffrage story,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Co-Chair of the Broome-Tioga Suffrage Anniversary Committee and a member of the NYS Women’s Suffrage Anniversary Commission. “The Ladies of Lisle were trailblazers and they’re finally getting their due all these years later.”
The special election in the small Broome County town on January 5, 1918 was held to determine whether the town should allow the sale of alcohol. The Ladies, who were involved in the local temperance movement, led a lopsided defeat of the proposition – 335 against liquor to 94 in favor.
As a nod to the two factions pitted against one another in the 1918 vote, a “dry” reception was held at the Lisle Free Library following the historical marker ceremony, and a “wet” reception at French Distillers and Alchemists (FDA), just a block away from the site of the old Village Hall where the Ladies voted. Since attitudes towards alcohol have changed significantly over the last century, FDA decided to honor the first vote with a commemorative Ladies of Lisle whiskey.
“My family has lived here for generations; in fact, my great-great aunt was one of the Ladies of Lisle,” said Phil French, Founder of French Distillers & Alchemists. “We try to honor our local community with all of our whiskeys, so celebrating these women was a natural fit. We describe this particular batch as ‘sweet with a hint of spice reflecting the fortitude of those free spirited’ women.”
The “wet” reception continued on Saturday for those who were unable to attend Friday’s events and the library also welcomed guests to learn more about the history of the first vote. Self-guided walking tours of the historic village are available year-round. A pamphlet guide is available at the Lisle Free Library and FDA and the tour can also be accessed on the CLIO Walking Tours app for smart phones and tablets.