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News & Announcements

Copies of the Historical Society's Newsletter are available here.

Several years ago a museum volunteer remarked that every time she drives by our museum, it makes her proud to live in Union Springs. We hope you share that feeling as well. Our museum would not exist in our beautiful structure if it were not for the efforts of many but two women in particular - Marge Gibbs and Millie Lewis. It is fitting that we honor them in this article - the final of women's History Month.

First here is a little history of the structure taken from a program Marge gave at the Frontenac in 1991. When three Union Springs denominations (Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian) combined resources in 1970, they consolidated activities into one building, the Methodist Church which today is Trinity United Church of Christ. At that time, the Presbyterians wanted to divest themselves of their unused church. However, a stipulation in the original church deed dated 1839, in which the property was donated to the church by George Howland, mandated that, if the building was no longer used for religious purposes, the property would revert to Howland heirs. Enter Marge and Millie.

Marge Gibbs is known to be smart, meticulous and dedicated. She used these skills, as well as her interest in genealogy, and volunteered to trace the Howland heirs, the first step in clearing the title. This was no easy task as there were many! Marge first visited a direct descendant who lived in Massachusetts and was able to provide a complete list of the descendants of Matthew Howland. She contacted two area Howland descendants who provided her with the heirs of Augustus Howland. And finally, from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, she received a copy of a Howland genealogy written in 1919 which enabled her to identify the heirs of our George Howland. Over a period of six months, Marge was able to locate 87 primary (oldest in their line) heirs of George and Susan Howland. With the legal assistance of Auburn lawyer, Charles Lynch, all eventually signed off on their claim and the title to the property formerly owned by the First Presbyterian Church of Springport was transferred to the Frontenac Historical Society in 1994. At that time Marge assumed the position of Treasurer of the Society.

Many students recall Marge first serving as their Middle School music teacher and then moving into the role of High School Guidance Counselor, retiring in 1986. Even though Marge is now living out of the area, she remains a very active supporter of the museum.

Meanwhile, on the "other side of the street," in the 1990's Millie Lewis was serving as the Clerk of Session of the Springport Presbyterian Church which was still viable following the combination of resources with the Methodist and Episcopalian denominations. Millie worked tirelessly with the Session and the parent church to secure the sale of the property to the historical society for $1.00. Millie had been in contact with Llewellyn Howland paving the way for Marge to start her research. Millie too is known for her meticulous attention to detail and procedures and an endless spirit of volunteerism. These traits served her well in dealing with the requirements and paperwork involved in the sale of the structure.

Millie has donated numerous items to the collection of the museum also serving as docent for many years. Her interest in history stems from many sources, including her mother's Mayflower ancestors. Many generations of students were taught by Millie, who began her Union Springs teaching career in the one-room Willow Brook School in Fleming in 1941 where she taught grades 1-8. In total, Millie devoted 24 years (plus more as a substitute following retirement) to teaching in our district. Her local volunteerism includes serving as the Red Cross Blood Services Coordinator for decades, giving it up only when she stopped driving at 95, volunteering at the local food bank, serving on every committee at her church, and driving local residents to appointments. She has also been a member of Leisure Hour Literary Club for well over 55 years.

Today we salute and thank both Marge and Millie as their dedication and persistence are directly responsible for the physical existence of the Frontenac Historical Society and the beautiful home of our treasured museum.

So respected was Elizabeth Lawton Hazard that a booklet, calling her Friend At large, was written upon her death describing how she touched the lives of many. Elizabeth was born in Poplar Ridge in the year 1889. She married Isaac Hazard who descended from a long line of Quakers. Elizabeth traveled widely over New York Yearly Meeting listening and counseling in meeting and personal affairs serving as field secretary for over 20 years. She served on numerous committees in her faith often encouraging and assisting youth. For years she served on the board of the American Friends Service Committee. During World War II as a member of the American Friends Service Committee, she helped organize conscientious objector camps in New York and often visited them in other states. She would appear in court to provide counsel and advice during conscientious objector trials. Mrs. Hazard served as a Quaker minister who officiated at many marriage and funerals in Quaker families. She was a member of the Board of Directors of Oakwood School before and after its removal from Union Springs to Poughkeepsie. Together with her husband, they were influential in the building of Camp Gregory.

These words are extracted form a tribute written by neighbor Helen Pike following Elizabeth Hazard's death in 1968.

Those of us who have lived on Park Street in Union Springs for many years have had the privilege to know a brilliant, radiant neighbor, Mrs. Elizabeth Hazard, who touched the lives of many people in the United States. She was full of life, energy and took interest in everyone. She was as excited as the Boy Scouts when a group of them took off on a fifty mile canoe trip to Camp Gregory and back. she was equally excited when she demonstrated a sugaring off for the Schlappi children. She delighted in having children in for meals. She felt that something shared was more enjoyable whether it was a letter that contained a message she thought might interest you, or a meal or a batch of applesauce.

She went before the Federal Courts in all sections of the United States on behalf of conscientious objectors. She believed one should carry the sword as long as his conscience allowed him to do it. Yet, at court, she would consider carefully both sides and try to objectively give her decision.

It has been stated by one who knew her well that "Elizabeth gave so much of herself in those activities that her health was impaired and a few months rest became necessary." After Elizabeth retired, she and her husband, Isaac, lived a quiet but fruitful life in their home at 10 Park Street, in Union Springs. Their home became a haven for visiting Friends. Betty Shockey remarked that Elizabeth opened new worlds for newcomers to Union Springs. Whether the topic was geese or garden, she was interested. If she knew you were experienced in canning, she would appear at canning time saying that an extra pair of hands would be needed. She had a reverence for fine workmanship.

When Elizabeth passed, her service was an inspirational one as the speaker emphasized how she was able to relate to everyone on an individual basis. With expectant faith, Elizabeth visioned the light, even in darkness. She left a wide fellowship of friends, who through association with her have found a meaningful and enriching sense of fulfillment.

March is women's History Month - a time to reflect on the unsung contributions of women to history. We celebrate Elizabeth Lawton Hazard as a woman who made a difference to so many.

You are invited to check out the Women's History Month display researched and mounted by Frontenac Museum board member, Linda Albrecht, on view in the store window of 151 Cayuga St. Linda's interviews with nine area women were woven into compelling and interesting stories of accomplishment and service. Why not stop by and read these stories of women who have made a difference in our community?

The Frontenac is indebted to Eric and Frances Rosenkrans for generously providing the display space.

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