Weekly Feature

2018-03-08 / Editorials

The women who made ‘her-story’ in area

Bee Editorial

March is Women’s History Month across the country and right here in East Aurora and Elma. It seems like we hear an awful lot about the men who helped define East Aurora, such as Elbert Hubbard and Millard Fillmore, but there is little about the women who contributed to this community’s success.

However, according to Robert Goller, Town of Aurora historian, there have been a number of women who played vital roles, but as he writes in his book “Legendary Locals of East Aurora,” historical records leave out the names of these women.

Take Martha Richardson Adam, for example. This woman rode sidesaddle on a horse from Massachusetts to East Aurora, a distance of more than 500 miles, all while carrying an infant. Or Frances Reed, who in 1918, joined the post office and became one of the first female letter carriers in the nation. Fisher-Price might not have been the successful toy company it is today had it not been for the work of Helen Schelle, one of the three founders of the company. Goller writes that Schelle, who owned a bookstore in Binghamton before moving to East Aurora, worked with Irving Price’s wife, Margaret Evans Price, to design some of the first toys the company produced. According to Goller, Schelle was a private person who stayed out of the limelight, although she was the secretary and treasurer for the company.

When you’re enjoying the Aurora Town Pool this summer, keep Janet Vosseller in your mind. She’s the one who helped make it a reality. In 1963, after years of trying to get a pool built, the Kiwanis Club teamed up with her to revive the dream. A door-to-door fundraising drive was launched in 1965, and the next year, Goller writes, the pool was opened. Even today, women in Aurora are making history. In 2009, Jolene Jeffe was the first woman elected supervisor of the town. Jeffe held the position until she stepped down in 2013 and currently sits on the board as a councilwoman.

With all the success women have had in this community, there is still a lot to be done. So far, there has never been a female mayor in East Aurora.

That might change in the future. Michelle Schoeneman recently ran as the Democratic candidate against Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo. While she lost the race, Schoeneman is now planning to join the East Aurora Village Board as a trustee, a position that could mean she’s looking to make history and eventually become the first female mayor of East Aurora.

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