My name is Florence Chauncey. In 1917 I was living in the Village of Lisle, where my husband, Fred Chauncey, was pastor of the Lisle Methodist Episcopal Church. It was in November of that year that an amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting the women of New York State the right to vote. Who would have thought that the little Broome County township of Lisle would be the very first place in the state where women’s right to vote would be exercised!
On January 5, 1918, on a cold, snowy morning just four days after the Constitutional amendment became effective, a special excise election was held in Lisle. I had taken a leading role in the campaign and knew that by being able to include women in the election, we had a good chance of defeating the liquor advocates, so I quickly organized a “get out and vote” campaign.
Early morning on election day the women started arriving at Village Hall… they walked, came in hay-wagons and horse-drawn sleighs. With flags and banners waving, arms stretched high and cheering, the “Ladies of Lisle” had come to vote!
At 6AM I took my place first in line, and when the time came, I entered my vote on the ballot. Then, after posing for a photograph, I slipped the card through a slot in the ballot box. Immediately, a local tavern owner shouted “I challenge that vote and every other vote cast by any woman in this hall.” The challenge was over-ruled, my ballot was in the box, and with that I became the first woman in New York State to vote in a political election!
Just before the polls closed that day I made this statement: “I am very proud of the distinction of being the first woman to cast a vote in an election in this state. I know all former suffragists, now citizens, feel just as jubilant as I do. I prize my privilege most because it is a privilege shared by all my sisters in this State.”
A few years later my family moved to Robinson Street in Binghamton, where my husband would serve as pastor at Fairview Methodist Church.
Today, the old Village Hall in Lisle is still standing, and it gives me great pleasure to announce that an Historical Marker will be unveiled at that site on January 5, 2018… exactly 100 years after that first vote was cast!
Roger Luther - 2017