Susan B. Anthony and Chautauqua County Courthouse

Mayville, New York is a village of about 1,700 people. It’s a quaint small town just a hop, skip and a jump from Lake Erie. I was actually on my way to Barcelona Lighthouse when the wide streets, old buildings and overall tidy appearance of the town turned my head.

I did my usual grid search of the town before circling back to the main drag to study the Chautauqua County Courthouse.

This building is stately and interesting all by itself. Built of stone around 1908, it’s the third courthouse here. I admired its large lawn and how it’s set back from the street. I often complain about my local courthouse and how you’re greeted by a lot of concrete and a weapon of war next to the front door. It’s a cool building but not especially friendly and I’m always jealous of courthouses that are so welcoming as the one in Mayville.

But I digress.

It’s notable to me that this wee town is the county seat when nearby Jamestown is significantly larger.

It was made county seat in 1812 and I’m guessing the choice was made because of the town’s proximity to Lake Erie. It just seems odd to see the cradle of government in a small town when it’s usually located in a county’s larger community.

What makes this site especially interesting though is that Susan B. Anthony spoke here. There was a different building here at the time but on December 26, 1854, she spoke at this site to organize the first county women’s suffrage convention for the New York State Women’s Rights. Committee.

History was made here.

This was actually the legendary suffragette’s first stop on this campaign to rally support for a committee in each county.

The community had this marker placed back in 2019 in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment in 2020.

Born a Quaker, Anthony had quite the career as an activist and as an advocate for women’s rights. She died in 1906, missing the ratification of the 19th amendment by about fourteen years. Yet, she lives on in generations of women and girls who enjoy rights these rights she worked so hard to earn.

It is gratifying to know the community takes such pride in this slice of their history.

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