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Keep on voting

March 25, 2011
Harriet Taylor Upton (1853-1945) is the name of a woman of special note to Warren, Trumbull County and the nation. She is identified by an important word not used often these days. Upton was a leader in the national “suffrage” movement. She championed the right of women to vote in the early part of the last century. She was successful in her work as an organizer and political leader, helping to pass the 19th Amendment in 1920, giving American women the right to vote. Upton lived in Warren in a house on the corner of Mahoning Avenue and Monroe Street. Henry Perkins, who built a brick house across the street and moved there in 1871, formerly owned what is now the Upton House, which he built in the 1840s. The Upton House Association now owns the Greek revival-style house, a part of the “Millionaires’ Row” assemblage of vintage residences. Some years ago, these interested people actually saved the house from the wrecking ball. Its members maintain the Upton House, where educational programs are provided for adults and school children in the community. Volunteers also take programs out to classrooms. While most of the visitors are from northeastern Ohio, visitors from across the country come to see the residence of the former, and still recognized, celebrity. The board is made up of 24 members with diverse backgrounds and experiences. The association has 10 standing committees “that could not function without volunteers,” their informational materials note. In 2010, the membership was 232. My wife and I have had the pleasure of attending events at the Upton House over the years and can attest to the activity of the members —they are busy in the kitchen, busy maintaining and restoring their beautiful old structure, busy keeping an attractive garden. They rent their facilities in the Upton House for weddings, receptions, anniversary celebrations and the like. Many of the members are women, but one committee is exclusively male. This committee is called “Three Men and a Truck.” They do the “heavy lifting” with smiles, enjoying a good time while they are at it. The members are also the initiators and sponsors of the Women’s Park, which is located across Mahoning Avenue from the house. The park features a statue of a young woman, a running stream, flowers and a brick walk. The walk is made up of engraved bricks commemorating women of note and loved ones. In 1832, young, well-educated Alexis de Tocqueville came to America from France to explore the differences between lives of people in Europe and those in America. He traveled in the America of that day for nearly two years before going back to his home country to write “Democracy in America” in 1835. (I don’t know that the Upton House has a copy of his book in their library, but one might guess that it could be a good place to start looking, if you needed one to read.) He noted that Americans came together voluntarily to form organizations to support and expand nearly every endeavor imaginable. There was no Upton House Association during Tocqueville’s time. He observed, that unlike people in Europe, Americans came together for mutual purposes and cultural enrichment when an activity of value was identified. What was true years ago is still evidenced in the 21st century among the talented members of the Upton House and tens of thousands of other endeavors across the nation. Carol Olson, the new president of the Upton House Association board, is an enthusiastic leader and representative of so many of the association’s members. She comes to the presidency with a background in critical care nursing and nursing administration, academic work at YSU and Villanova University and leadership positions in volunteer organizations such as the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, Someplace Safe, Trumbull County Medical Society Alliance and Mobile Meals, and she is an active church person. Olson has an interest in fundraising. She is in the right place for that, as all members of the Upton are fundraisers. These go-get-’em volunteers, like their founder, have to be fundraisers, as they, and an occasional foundation grant or two, are the only financial support the association has.


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