This year we celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment which secured the right of women to vote. The historic anniversary gives us a chance to remember and recognize pioneering efforts by women from across New York State.
A recent Watertown Daily Times article featured the story of US Army Brigadier General Anna Mae Hays, one of two women who became Generals on the same day in 1970. Truly, Hays exemplifies a trailblazer, yet the other woman in the photograph of that promotion celebration which was run with the story is a woman claimed by Sackets Harbor, NY – Brigadier General Elizabeth Hoisington.
Hoisington’s father commanded a battalion at Sackets Harbor’s army post Madison Barracks from 1925 to 1931. During those years she and her siblings attended school in the village. In a family history authored in 1995, she said: “In winter, when the roads became snow covered and stayed that way, the Quartermaster at Madison Barracks loaded the school children into a horse-drawn sled and we had a wonderful sleigh ride to and from school.” Twelve-year old Elizabeth became a member of the newly formed junior group of the Sackets Harbor Girl Scouts in winter 1931.
Once she retired from the military, General Hoisington returned to Sackets Harbor several times. In March 1990, she spoke at a “Celebrate Gen. Elizabeth Hoisington Day” school assembly, dined with members of the Jefferson County Historical Society in Watertown, and toured the nearby army installation Ft. Drum. During her visit she spoke at the Jefferson County Historical Society as part of their “Women of Importance” exhibition. Again in 1995, during another visit, General Hoisington was the guest of honor at several dinners in Sackets Harbor.
In autumn 2000, Hoisington returned to the North Country with her brother Perry. Perry and Elizabeth Hoisington are believed to be the only brother-sister duo in the military to reach the rank of general.