When women's rights icon Susan B. Anthony was six years old, her family moved from their Massachusetts home and extended family to the hamlet of Battenville, in Washington County, New York. Susan's father Daniel had been hired by a family friend, Judge McLean, to build and operate a cotton mill along the Battenkill River, and to build a store and homes for the mill workers.
The family initially lived in one-half of the Judge's home until Daniel was able to build a new house for his growing family, which they moved into in 1832-33. The home is two-and-a-half stories and has fifteen rooms, including a second story classroom where Susan helped her cousin Sarah teach some of the mill girls on Sunday afternoons. From 1834-35 she taught in other area home schools and boarded with the host families.
The economic depression of 1837 caused hard times for the Anthony family when the mill lost business customers and was forced to close. Papa Anthony sent Susan and her sister Guelma to a Pennsylvania school for a year, but they had to leave in 1838, when Daniel Anthony declared bankruptcy and they lost their Battenville home and moved to Rochester, New York.
From then on, Susan taught in order to help support her family, later joining in the abolition, temperance and women's rights movements, and the rest, as they say, is History.
I have driven past the empty home on State Route 29 many times and noticed the historic marker indicating that it was Susan B. Anthony's childhood home, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I stopped the car to take a closer look. The house sits right on the edge of a very twisty part of the road and I was nearly blown backwards by several speeding trucks as I focused on my shot, but here's a photo of this historic home:
While Anthony's Rochester home is a National Historic Landmark, run by a non-profit organization, her Battenville abode is still in limbo. It was a private residence until January 2006, when it went into mortgage foreclosure (again!) and the minimum bid at auction was not achieved. Luckily, the mortgage holder, Freddie Mac, sold the property to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for a cool $1, and there are long-term plans to try to get this historic building, now listed on the Historic Register, restored and open to the public.
I gleaned a bit of information for this post from the delightful children's book, "Susan B. Anthony: Champion of Women's Rights" (Childhood of Famous Americans), by Helen Albee Monsell, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1986. I also consulted the website of the Susan B. Anthony Rochester Home and the redoubtable Wikipedia.