8am in Rochester, NY and the weather is having a hard time deciding between rain and snow.
It’s the second day of multiple car stops along our Indiana to Rhode Island spring break journey. Along with me are my husband Josh, and my two girls age 9 and 14.
Being nearly rained out by the first day of our journey, we were more determined to spend time at our stops yet careful not to get pneumonia. The balance would deem difficult but by luck and modern medicine, we prevailed.
We arrived at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY and we were taken aback by the beauty and expanse of the cemetery. Mausoleums and towering obelisks peppered the massive rolling hills. We learned that more than 350,000 people are buried in Mount Hope, that’s more than its current population.
My little tribe finds cemeteries a beautiful tribute with stories waiting to be re-discovered and bought into the light. We honor that each person is being mourned not only by their family but their community. Sometimes the big memorials catch our attention with their ornate details; sometimes the small tombstone of a child breaks our heart.
Susan B. Anthony’s grave is understated yet stands out. Perhaps the white marble that has been kept after better than the surrounding tombstones, perhaps it’s because each election I see photos of her grave covered in “I Voted” stickers.
There were a few stickers left when we visited. Rocks, flowers, coins, buttons, candles and big and small pink Pussy Hats were left in remembrance and dedication.
We were at her gravesite only two days after President Trump hosted a panel discussion on women’s empowerment at the White House asking, “Have you heard of Susan B. Anthony?” Susan B. Anthony was soon trending on Twitter. I was at least happy her name was once again in the spotlight.
About Susan B. Anthony
Born Feb 15, 1820, in Adams, Massachusetts to a politically active Quaker family, Susan B. Anthony was a leader in the abolition movement, the temperance movement, and women’s rights.
As a teenager, she attended anti-slavery meetings where sometimes in attendance were Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. Douglass and his first wife Anna and second wife Helen are also buried in Mount Hope Cemetery.
When Susan was 28, she gave her first speech at a Daughter of Temperance Supper. She saw temperance as a women’s rights issue because, at that time, if a woman was in a marriage with a drunkard she had no rights to the guardianship of her children, the ability to own property to leave, and divorces were extremely difficult. Then next year Susan was elected president of the Rochester branch of the Daughter of Temperance.
In 1851 she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton by an introduction from Amelia Bloomer, the next year she attended her first women’s rights convention in Syracuse, NY. When she wasn’t allowed to speak at a temperance convention because she was a woman, she and Elizabeth started the New York State Temperance Society (also called the Women’s State Temperance Society). Their hard work paid off as in 1860 New York State passed Married Women’s Property Bill allowing married women to own property, keep their wages, and have custody of their children.
Susan and Elizabeth’s friendship would last their whole lives. Susan, who never had children and never married, would give 75-100 speeches a year. Elizabeth, who had 7 children and a husband who died in 1887, would write and gather resources to fuel Susan’s amazing speeches.
“I forged the thunderbolts and she fired them.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton on Susan B. Anthony
With the Civil War on the horizon in 1856, Susan became an agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society and arranged meetings, made speeches, passed out leaflets and dealt with hostile mobs that hung images of her in effigy and dragged those images through the streets. She was also part of the Underground Railroad she wrote in her diary in 1861 “Fitted out a fugitive slave for Canada with the help of Harriet Tubman.” Harriet Tubman lived not far from Susan in Auburn, NY.
Susan and Elizabeth founded/organized/lead many organizations:
- 1863 Women’s National Loyal League – to support the 13th amendment
- 1866 American Equal Rights Association – to secure equal rights to all American citizens regardless of color or gender
- 1869 National Women’s Suffrage Association – to get a constitutional amendment for women’s right to vote
- 1869 American Woman Suffrage Association – to support women’s right to vote state-by-state
- 1870 Workingwomen’s Central Association – to support and research on women’s work conditions and opportunities.
The two suffragettes created a weekly publication called The Revolution in 1868. They advocated for an 8 hour workday and equal pay for equal work. They also published three volumes called History of Women’s Suffrage from 1881-1902.
From 1869-1906 Susan appeared before every congress asking for the passage for the suffrage amendment. She didn’t see it pass in her lifetime.
Her biggest famous moment was being arrested in 1872 for voting illegally. She was fined $100 but never paid it, made a big spectacle of it and put a spotlight on women’s right to vote.
Susan would die on March 13, 1906, at the age of 86. It would be 14 years later that finally the 19th amendment that she and others fought for would pass and women would be allowed to vote.
The girls and I thanked Susan for all her work for women’s rights, the abolishment of slavery, and workers’ rights. We continue learning about and learning from this amazing woman who dedicated her life to helping women to be seen as equal human beings because in her words, “Failure is impossible.”
We also paid our respects to Frederick Douglass and his wife first wife Anna (who died of a stroke in 1882) and his second wife Helen Pitts Douglass at Mount Hope Cemetery and visited Harriet Tubman’s home and museum in Auburn, NY.
Other notable women buried Mount Hope Cemetery are:
- Lillian Wald, nurse, humanitarian and author who founded the Henry Street Settlement and involved in the founding of the NAACP.
- Jessica M. Weis, President of the National Federation of Republican Women and a two-term member of the House of Representatives.
- Margaret Woodbury Strong, who had a massive doll collection of 22,000 and founded the Strong National Museum of Play.
The cemetery is also part of the Votes for Women History Trail.
Travel Plan Suggestion
Start the day in Rochester, NY
Susan B. Anthony House, 17 Madison St, Rochester, NY 14608
Allow 1 hour to visit. Check Website for hours and admissions fees.
12-minute drive to
Mount Hope Cemetery (Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass graves) 1133 Mt Hope Ave, Rochester, NY 14620
Allow as much time as you need to pay your respects. No admission fees but there are open gate hours listed on Google.
1-hour drive to Seneca Falls, NY
Women’s Rights National Historic Park, 136 Fall St, Seneca Falls, NY 13148
Allow 2 hours to view the museum and the surrounding historical sites. Admission is free. Hours vary by season. Website
3 Minute Drive (20-minute walk) to
Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s House, 32 Washington Street, Seneca Falls, NY
Reopens in the Spring. Free Admission. Website
25-minute drive to Auburn, NY
Harriet Tubman House & Museum, 180 S Street Rd, Auburn, NY 13021
Allow 30 minutes for the museum, tours have starting times. Museum was free (we left a donation) not sure on the tour as we had missed the last one. Website
5-minute drive to
Fort Hill Cemetery (Harriet Tubman’s grave) 19 Fort St, Auburn, NY 13021
Allow as much time as you need to pay your respects. No admission fees but there are open gate hours listed on Google. Website
Approximate itinerary time: 7 hours including travel.