Happy 200th Birthday Elizabeth Scudder Fenton!

Elizabeth Scudder was born on May 4, 1824 in Monroe County, New York, to Joel and Hannah (Cronkhite) Scudder. Walter Cronkite was later descended from this same family.

The Scudder family moved to Randolph, Cattaraugus County, in 1827, and later to Carroll, to the portion that would become Kiantone in 1853. Elizabeth’s paternal grandfather, Ezekial Scudder, was a Revolutionary War soldier and her father, Joel Scudder served in the War of 1812. Her brother, John D. Scudder, enlisted in the Civil War and was killed near Petersburg, Virginia in 1864.

Elizabeth married Reuben Fenton on June 12, 1844, two years after the death of his first wife Jane Frew. They had two daughters: Josephine and Jeanette.
The new home at Walnut Grove was not yet finished when Reuben became Governor, and the family lived with him at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany until the move to their new home. Elizabeth was pregnant with their third child during this time, and it has been said that she had a hearing problem and was uncomfortable being in large social gatherings. Josephine enjoyed the spotlight and often joined her father for social events.

Elizabeth was well loved for her artistic nature, her kindliness, and lovable characteristics.

She enjoyed gardening and had a greenhouse and gardens at Walnut Grove. In fact, she was criticized in a local paper for wearing a straw hat and galoshes while working in her garden, as this was unbefitting of her new title of Mrs. Governor Fenton.

During the Civil War, she was particularly active in supporting the soldiers and became very involved in philanthropic movements along with Josephine and Jeanette, Creche and the Women’s Movement toward the right to vote especially.

Elizabeth died on May 2, 1901, just 2 days before her 87th birthday, after having been widowed for 16 years. Her beloved son, Reuben Earle, passed prior in 1895, having contracted typhoid fever while traveling with his wife. One can only imagine that she may have been looking forward to reuniting with husband and son.

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