Swansea Historical Society

Women's History Month - highlighting some of Swansea's Women in History


Notable Swansea Women in History:

Barbara Ashton
No Place To Go Cover
    Barbara Ashton was a local journalist and freelance writer who was born in Fall River but spent most of her life in Swansea. She was the author of "No Place to Go: A History of the Stevens-Children's Home."
please click here for more info on Mrs. Ashton

Lizzie and Emma Borden
    Fall River is famous for the Borden family. Unless you are a Lizzie Borden enthusiast, you may not know that the Borden family owned a summer home on Gardners Neck Road here in Swansea.
    Lizzie and Emma were said to be very generous with monetary donations to the Town of Swansea. In 1904, the Borden sisters commissioned The Iron Works Company in Providence, Rhode Island to build a cast iron trough that once stood on Main Street in Swansea Village. It is now under the care of the Swansea Historical Society and is located on the grounds of the Luther Store Museum.
please click here for more info on the Borden sisters

Maude Frances Darling-Parlin
Maude Parlin portrait
     Maude Parlin was the first female architect from Fall River, MA. Maude, along with Marion Riley and Grace Hartley Howe, saved the Luther Store from demolition. She was also responsible for the restoration and preservation of many historical homes and buildings in the Fall River Area.
please click here for more info on Mrs. Parlin

Violet F Dennis
     Violet Dennis was a renowned cookie maker in Swansea known as Aunt Polly or Aunt Vi (source: The Spectator, December 26, 1974)
please click here for more info on Violet Dennis

Ruth Manchester Doodson
Ruth Manchester Doodsonn portrait
    Ruth Doodson was born Ruth Manchester on August 1, 1913 at her grandparents’ home at 924 Gardners Neck Road here in Swansea. (The house is now the Swan Brook Assistant Living facility.) Her lineage can be traced back to the Mayflower - John Alden and Priscilla Mullins Alden.
please click here for more info on Ruth Doodson

Flora E. Dutton
Flora Dutton portrait
    Flora Dutton was born in Vermont on April 27th, 1887 and passed away in August of 1984 at the age of 97 (source: familysearch.org)
    She was the author of a 1957 cookbook and owner of Miss Dutton's Green Room, a tea room in Providence, RI.
please click here for more info on Flora Dutton

Katherine "Kay" Eddy
Katherine Eddy
    Katherine Eddy was a dispatcher for the Swansea Fire Department. She was the wife of Deputy Chief Russell Eddy. On June 26, 1951, Kay officIally became the "voice of K-C-B, 6-1-5". She retired in 1987 after working as a dispatcher for thirty-nine years.
please click here for more info on Katherine Eddy

Grace Hartley Howe
Grace Hartley Howe
    Grace Hartley Howe was the first female Postmaster in Fall River and in the United States.
    In 1937, Maude Parlin a friend of Grace's, asked her to join the team to save the Luther Store.
please click here for more info on Grace Howe

Elizabeth Tilly Howland
    Elizabeth Howland came over on the Mayflower. She later married John Howland and together they had 10 children - Desire, John, Hope, Elizabeth, Lydia, Hannah, Joseph, Jabez, Ruth, and Isaac. More of his story can be found here. After her husband died, she and her daughter, Lydia, took up residence in Swanzey and were the first legal female residents of the town. Lydia married Captain John Brown. Together they purchased land on Pierce Road and built what is now referred to as the John Brown House.
    Elizabeth passed away, in Swansea, in 1687 and is buried in the Ancient Little Neck Cemetery in East Providence, RI. (source: Find-A-Grave.com)
    On her gravestone:
        “Here ends the pilgrimage of
        Elizabeth Tilley Howland
        who died Wednesday 31
        December 1687 at home of her daughter
        Lydia & husband James Brown
        in Swansea. Elizabeth married
        Pilgrim John Howland who came
        with her in the Mayflower December 1620.
        From them are descended a
        numerous posterity.”

Florence H. Luscomb
Florence Luscomb
    Miss Luscomb was not from Swansea, but she spoke in the area, including Swansea, on woman's suffrage in 1915. Several articles were posted in the local papers, including the Fall River Daily Evening News and the Fall River Daily Globe, concerning the suffrage meetings. (source: Newspapers.com)
please click here for more info on Florence Luscomb

Helen R. Davis Pierce
Helen Pierce
    Helen Pierce was born in 1901 and lived her entire life in Swansea, Massachusetts. She was a Swansea Town Historian and a genealogist and was known to have a photographic memory.
Helen passed away in 2006 at the age of 105.
please click here for more info on Helen Pierce

Marion Riley
    Marion Riley founded the Swansea Historical Society on January 23, 1941. In 1965, she established the Swansea Cultural Assets Commission, also known as the Swansea Historical Commission.
    Marion Riley, along with Maude Parlin and Grace Hartley Howe, saved and preserved the Luther Store Museum. The venture started 1937 with the moving of the Luther Store by the WPA saving it from demolition by the Town of Swansea. In 1941, the Swansea Historical Society was established with the primary purpose to purchase the Luther Store from the Town of Swansea. In 1954, and after a thirteen year court battle over language in the deed, the deed was transferred over the The Swansea Historical Society.

Elizabeth Richmond Case Stevens
Elizabeth Richmond Case Stevens
    Elizabeth Richmond Case Stevens was born April 22, 1849 to Joseph Case and Eliza S. Gray Case. Elizabeth married Frank Shaw Stevens, widower of Julia Birch Stevens. Upon the death of her husband, Frank, in 1898, Elizabeth oversaw the distribution of gifts to the Town of Swansea in her husband’s name - the Swansea Town Hall, Swansea Public Library, Frank S. Stevens School and a large donation to the Swansea School system.
please click here for more info on Elizabeth Stevens

Julia Ann Briggs Chace Birch Stevens
Julia Ann Briggs Chace Birch Stevens
    Julia Ann Briggs Chace Birch Stevens was born April 13, 1827 to Royal Chase and Patience Luther Chase. Julia first married James Birch and they had two children together. James died in a ship wreck in 1857. Julia later married his business partner, Frank Shaw Stevens in 1858.
please click here for more info on Julia Birch Stevens


Swansea Educators:

Elizabeth Stevens Brown
E. S. Brown portrait
     Elizabeth Brown was born December 17th, 1879 at the home of the Stevens family. She passed away on February 12th, 1941 and is buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Swansea
    She became the first Black school educator and prinicipal in Swansea.
please click here for more info on Elizabeth Brown

Mary Elizabeth Nottingham
    Mary Nottingham was born April 10th, 1901. She passed away on March 22th, 1988 and is buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Swansea
    She was one of the first Black educators in the area. please click here for more info on Mary Nottingham


First Woman to be Thrown Out of Swansea - 1749:

Jane Dane
Jane Dane document
    “Whereas Jane Dane came into the town of Swansey to Dwell the beginning of June 1749 – from Freetown and hath not the approbation of the Select men and Contrary to Law.
You are therefore required in His Majesties Name to Warn the above said Jane Dane to Depart & leave this said Town of Swansey within fourteen days after Warning, and not to return again into said town to Inhabit without Liberty from the said Selectmen and make Return of this Warrant with your doings thereon to some one of the Selectmen.
Given under our Hands & seals this 21st day of August 1749”
    The document was signed by “Hezekiah Kingsley”, “Stephen Cornell” and “James Brown” as selectmen of Swansey (source: https://www.biblio.com/book/town-swansea-massachusetts-orders-woman-leave/d/1359309634)


Swansea Selectmen:


Daphne Baker Sears
    1st woman selectman for the Town of Swansea
    She also served as Town Treasurer from 1950 until her death in November of 1981
    She was born April 30th, 1912 and passed away November 2, 1981
    She is buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Swansea (source: familysearch.org)

Mary Kappes
    her term as selectman for the Town of Swansea was from 1988 to 1991

Kathleen L. A. Cardenas
    her term as selectman for the Town of Swansea was from 1996 to 1999
    She was born January 18th, 1954 and passed away November 27, 2020

Gail T. Carey
    her term as selectman for the Town of Swansea was from 2000 to 2003
    She currently resides in Swansea and is an election worker for the town


Swansea Town Administrator:


Mallory Aronstein - first female Town Adminstrator for the Town of Swansea
     November 2020 – Present
     Stonehill College 2003-2007- Bachelor of Arts- Political Science and Communication
     Northwestern University 2012-2014- Masters in Public Administration, Public Policy and Administration
     Mallory is an experienced Town Administrator who has been working in the government administration industry since 2008. She has experience with nonprofit organizations, Grant writing, with a Masters of Public Administration. Mallory began her career as Staff Director for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts June 2007- September 2008. In October of 2008 she accepted the position of Assistant Town Administrator for the Town of West Bridgewater. Mallory held this position until November of 2017. During her time in West Bridgewater she also held the position of Recording Secretary for the Finance Committee - February 2013 - August 2015. In December of 2017 she accepted the position as Dighton Town Administrator she remained in Dighton until October 2020.