Year of Women

Marietta Holley was a Jefferson County writer of the 19th century whose work once shaped the entire women’s rights movement in the United States. Hailed as “The female Mark Twain,” Marietta Holley wrote in a distinctive colloquial voice that has largely

WPBS-DT A Year Of Women - Marietta Holley

faded from modern literary use, but is still fresh and strong in her books. Holley and her work have fallen into relative obscurity and are largely unknown outside of very narrow academic circles. This local documentary is intended to re-ignite awareness of her importance in the history of the United States and of Jefferson County, in particular, and to re-introduce her literary style and the flavor of her work to contemporary audiences.

A Year of Women has been made possible by a grant received from the National Center for Outreach (NCO). This grant allowed WPBS-DT to complete an entire year of programs and services under the title “A Year of Women.”

WPBS-DT has aired programs that pertain to famous women in our history and each was based upon a theme such as Women in War, Women in Science, Women in Business and Women in Arts & Entertainment. Along with several broadcasts, we also produced numerous Did you know? spots on-air about women in our local and New York State history that accompanies each theme. With each trivia fact we have also provided a Learning Extension page that can be used in the classroom or library setting.

Our figurehead for the project was Marietta Holley, a 19th century author from Jefferson County, New York. WPBS-DT produced a 60-minute documentary about Ms. Holley, which has been be distributed to local schools in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties in New York. The DVD also has an accompanying Teacher Guide.


  • 26th Telly Awards 2005:, Winner of the Silver Telly Award (Their Top Honor)
  • The Videographer Awards 2005:Award of Excellence from the Videographer Awards (Their Top Honors)
  • The Aurora Awards 2005:A Gold Award in the category of Video/Film/Documentary from the Aurora Awards.
  • The Accolade Competition 2005:An award of Excellence (first place) in the category of History and Biographical Documentary from the Accolade Competition.
  • MarCom Creative Awards 2005:A Gold Award from the MarCom Creative Awards.
  • Insight Awards:a 2005 Insight Award of Recognition from the National Association of Film and Digital Media Artists.
  • The International Davey Awards 2005:Winner of a Silver Davey Award in the History / Biography category
  • The Communicator Award 2006:An award of Distinction in the category of “Broadcast TV Arts” from the Communicator Awards..

As a tribute to our Figurehead for the Year of Women initiative, here are a few listing of websites that will bring you closer to Marietta Holley, her works and impact in Jefferson County.

Download this Teacher’s Guide.
Purchase This Program on DVD

The following information has been retrieved from our own local history – in an effort to provide some insight into the lives of those women featured on this website. Please use these facts and/or Learning Extension pages as another resource to bring local history into the classroom. Learning Extension pages may be used in their entirety, or in part, to fit an educator’s needs.

FACT #1: Women in Politics

The elected mayor of Sackets Harbor in 1917 was the first woman mayor in New York State.

Anna MacQuaid Mason. Newspaper articles stated: Mrs. Mason is capable in every way, fully knows the needs of the Village, and no doubt will give more time and attention to that town than any President has given for many years. As the mayor, she also performed the duties of the Police Chief.

Source: Chances of a Lifetime: A Memoir By: Eleanor Lansing Dulles

Learning Extension Document

FACT #2: Women in Politics

A female Watertown native served two decades in the Department of State, and earned a reputation as an expert of U.S. and German affairs.

Eleanor Lansing Dulles. One of her greatest accomplishments was the organization of the Berlin Desk.Eleanor died in November of 1996 at the age of 101.

Source: Watertown Daily Times April 14, 1956 and March 28, 1999

Learning Extension Document

FACT #3: Women in Politics

School teacher Elizabeth Barnett saves Gananoque from an invasion in 1838.

1838 was a turbulent time along the border, with fear that MacKenzie’s rebels would invade Upper Canada. A secret plan was crafted. A surprise attack on Gananoque was set. At that time, Elizabeth was a young school teacher, born in the U.S., but living and teaching in Gananoque. While visiting the U.S. one February evening, she overheard the plan to invade her adopted country and take control of Gananoque and Fort Henry in Kingston. The next morning, Elizabeth rushed into action. She traveled by horse & cutter to the River, crossing ten miles of frozen St. Lawrence, and warned unsuspecting Gananoque citizens. A defense was established and when the rebels learned their surprise attack had been thwarted, their plan quickly dissolved.

Source: “Yesterday News: Today History,” by Ina G. Scott, published by 1000 Islands Publishers Ltd. Gananoque, Ontario

Learning Extension Document

FACT #4: Women in War

A resident of Sackets Harbor, New York, became the first female general of the US Army.

WPBS-DT Year Of Women

Elizabeth Hoisington, of Sackets Harbor, became the first female general of the US Army in 1970, three years after Congress authorized the promotion of women as generals. She said: “All our women are standing taller today.” Hoisington served in the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) as their executive officer in Europe at the close of World War II. She retired as a highly decorated Brigadier General in 1971. At one point during her career, she and her brother were the only brother & sister generals in the US Army.

Source: “Images of America: Sackets Harbor” By: Arcadia Press. Photo courtesty of Robert & Jeannie Brennan, Sackets Harbor, New York.

Learning Extension Document

FACT #5: Women in Science

1000 Island Salad Dressing is born!

WPBS-DT Year Of Women

Sophia LaLonde, from Clayton, NY, created the recipe for 1000 Island Dressing, which May Irwin, a prominent New York City stage actress, coined the name. Ella Bertrand, who owned the Herald Hotel, now called the Thousand Island Inn, first introduced the dressing to the public by serving it at her restaurant. George Boldt, the original owner of Boldt Castle on Heart Island, also had the dressing put on his menu at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City and Bellevue Stratford in Philadelphia which introduced this popular dressing to the world.

Source:Photo: Courtesy of the Thousand Island Inn, Clayton, NY.

Learning Extension Document

FACT #6: Women in Science

Mary Edwards Walker, from Oswego, NY, was the second woman nationally to receive a medical degree in 1855.

Walker also received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Andrew Johnson in 1865 for her service and dedication throughout the Civil War. She is only the woman to ever receive this military honor. In 2000, Mary Edwards Walker was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls, NY.

Source:Photo: Courtesy of the Women In History

Learning Extension Document

FACT #7: Women in Arts & Entertainment

Sackets Harbor woman rises to fame as the NY City Opera mezzo-soprano.

Frances Lillian Bible. Her career in opera spanned four decades with leading roles in the United States, Canada and European opera houses. She began her singing career in North Country NY church choirs, and graduated from the Juilliard School of Music, making her New York City Opera debut in 1948. Following her career performing, she became artist-in-residence at Rice University, Texas. She was the only singer in New York City Opera history to receive an award commemorating her artistic contribution to the company.

Source:Watertown Daily Times articles Jan. 29, 2001 and Feb. 1, 2001

Learning Extension Document

FACT #8: Women in Arts & Entertainment

Esther Deer, also called was a noted stage actress and dancer from from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne, located north of Massena, NY.

WPBS-DT Year Of Women

was titled the first American Indian to gain fame as a dancer. She traveled around the world in Texas Jack’s Wild West Show and then broke away with her family, called the Deer Family Troupe, with their own western show. Esther Deer eventually became a solo act and gained most of her fame from the Florenz Ziefeld shows, where she performed and danced crossing over from Wild West to vaudeville.

WPBS-DT Year Of Women

Source:Exhibit narrative description from Kahnawake’s Cultural Center. Newspaper clippings from Akwesasne Museum/Cultural Center collection (March 1920 Vanity Fair, NY Tribune.)

Learning Extension Document

FACT #9: Women in Business

Watertown native, Rita Frattali Mackey, was President and Chief Executive Officer of Marine Midland Bank of Northern New York before her retirement in 1980.

Mackey was named Woman Banker of the Year by Finance Magazine in 1974 and was honored at ceremonies in New York City. She was also a Ladies Home Journal nominee for a Woman of the Year Award. Rita Frattali Mackey is a 1936 graduate of Watertown High School and a graduate of the American Institute of Banking. She served 17 years on the Flower Memorial Library Board and 15 years on the Northern New York Community Foundation Board.

Source:-Personal Interview with Mrs. Rita Frattali Mackey on January 10th, 2005.
-Watertown City School District: Distinguished Alumni Wall of Achievement
-Watertown Daily Times March 19,1989, Tracing Watertown Italians by: Frank P. Augustine

Learning Extension Document

FACT #10: Women in Business

Brockville, Ontario woman judges dairy products at the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Eliza Jones was a prominent dairywoman from Brockville, Ontario. She was the author of a best-selling book Dairying for Profit: Or the Poor Man’s Cow dedicated “To the farmer’s wives of America and to my sisters in toil.” Eliza’s herd of purebred Jersey cows won international fame with the herd’s butter selling for record prices in New York. Her agriculture production success stemmed from her three business principles – quality, cleanliness and bookkeeping.

Source:Article in Family Herald No 2, Jan. 25, 1968 by Ruth McKenzie and article in The Recorder and Times Nov. 29, 1997 by Myrtle Johnston

Learning Extension Document

FACT #11: Marietta Holley

A study of Northern New York originally published in three volumes in 1931 was condensed, in 1932, into a pamphlet for use in the public schools to teach local history. In the pamphlet, Marietta Holley’s biography and works are recommended as authentic background material for the social study of five counties of Northern, New York.

Source: Harry F. London, The North Country: A History Embracing Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Lewis and Franklin Counties 1931

FACT #12: Marietta Holley

In 1933, The International Women’s Writers Group listed one of Marietta Holley fictions, Samantha at the Centennial, among the one hundred outstanding books by American women in the past century, joining the company of Jane Addams, Emily Dickinson, Ida Tarbell and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The two prime requisites of the judging standards were literary quality and influence in shaping public thought of their own and succeeding generations.

Source: Watertown Daily Times, July 19, 1933

FACT #13: Lana J. Taylor

Calcium Primary School Principal Lana J. Taylor has been selected a 2006 State Senate Woman of Distinction.

Ms. Taylor, who moved to Jefferson County in 1986, has been an educator for 37 years. She lives in Watertown, NY. Initially a teacher at Evans Mills Primary School, she was promoted to assistant principal in 1990 and then to her present position in 1991. She also has been a member of the Jefferson County United Way Board, the Watertown Public Broadcasting Service Education Committee and the board of the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College. Ms. Taylor was selected for the honor by state Sen. James W. Wright, R-Watertown. He also selected SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley for the honor.

Source: Watertown Daily Times, June 25, 2006