Women of Chenango County

Women Of Chenango County

Twenty-one towns, twenty-one women who made history.

Generously Sponsored by the Roger Follett Foundation

Marie Moren

BA in History, SUNY Geneseo '20, CCHS Intern and Volunteer

In the Fall of 2020, I took on this exhibit project that is an endeavor to elevate the stories of various Women of Chenango County who made an impact in greater history. These are twenty-one stories of women who have been left out of the historical narrative and this exhibit is meant to be a testament to the strength, fortitude, courage, and moxie of women from all over the county who proved that men were not the only ones who could make history or deserve to be in a history book. Being a woman of Chenango County myself, this exhibit has been a true passion project that has impacted my view of Chenango County History, and I hope that yours will be too. The ways in which we tell history have evolved, but history stays the same throughout; it’s just a matter of taking the time to uncover the stories of those who might have been forgotten.

Alida Cornelia Avery

Name Alida Cornelia Avery
Town Sherburne
Born June 11, 1833, to Hannah (Dixon) Avery and Deacon William Avery.
Early Life Avery had two sisters and five brothers. At the young age of 16, she began teaching at a local schoolhouse in Sherburne. Women began entering the medical profession in the second half of the 19th century. Some of them attended medical schools founded by and for women and Avery is one such example. Avery studied medicine for one year in 1958 at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania and graduated from the New England Female Medical College in Boston in 1862.
Additional Highlights: After graduating, Alida went on to try and establish a private practice as a doctor in Brooklyn, NY. However, she had a “discouraging time” being able to obtain a medical office. Once she found one, she admitted, “I must own to a little dread of the publicity that involves. I am not quite callous to doing things that people sneer at and say hateful words about, but I shall not think of that if I have work.” In 1865, she was hired by Vassar College as its resident physician and as the Professor of Physiology and Hygiene. From 1866 until 1874, she was secretary of the faculty. She also organized the school’s Floral Society.
Avery then moved to Denver in 1874. She began practicing medicine and was the first woman licensed to practice medicine in Colorado. She was also among the first women who were admitted to the Denver Medical Society. In 1876, she was elected vice president of the Women’s Suffrage Association and she created the reform strategy in 1877 for Colorado suffragettes to win the right to vote. In 1887, Alida retired from working in Colorado and moved to California, though she established a medical office in San Francisco and she practiced medicine there for several years. After she retired, she continued being an avid activist for Women’s rights.
Legacy Alida Avery was a serious force to be reckoned with in her time. She set the example for many women who aspired to be doctors in the mid-19th century. She was also seen as a guiding force in Vassar’s early years and had a hall at Vassar College named after her in 1931. Her obituary in “The Sherburne News” of October 3, 1908, states that no student died during her tenure at Vassar. As an activist for women’s rights, she also made many waves in the medical community in relation to women’s health and wellness.
Died September 22, 1908. Alida Cornelia Avery is buried in Sherburne Quarter Cemetery, Sherburne, NY.

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