Village of Sodus Incorporation – 1918

Sodus Village Incorporates – 1918

 The Record of March 1, 1918, notified the local citizens that Gilbert J. Sergeant, Supervisor of the Town of Sodus, had received a proposition to incorporate the Village of Sodus was.  The notice informed people that the proposition would be open for inspection at the office of Henry O. Button on the morning of March 13th, 1918.  When Supervisor Sergeant presented the proposition, there was no objection.  On March 15, 1918 another notice in The Record announced that the town clerk ordered a vote for incorporation by “Freeholders, both men and women, whose names are on the assessment roll…”   In this same notice, Sodus was described as “…one of the finest and most progressive villages in this section….”

As with any change, there was opposition and conflict.  On March 22, 1918, The Record ran a two-column article entitled “Should Sodus Incorporate?  We Must Settle the Question Soon”.  Residents were concerned that taxes would be raised.  In the article, the writer pointed out that several improvements that might precede incorporation had already taken place.  These included the high school building which had been erected, the street lighting system that had already been installed, and the vote had taken place on the water system.  In addition, improvements had been made on Main Street.  Since these improvements had taken place, supporters of incorporation stated that taxes probably would not be raised.  On the other hand, it was understandable why the citizens were concerned since the district taxes were $17.51 per thousand and did not include our share of the highway tax compared to the rate of Webster village tax which was $9.95 per thousand.   Another local concern that citizens expressed was that firms or individuals would profit from the incorporation.  But as the writer of the article pointed out, all village expenses would be reported, and the elected officials would deal with grafters.  The following warning was included in the article: “IF THERE IS ANY DANGER OF GRAFT, WE SHOULD BY ALL MEANS INCORPORATE.  IT FURNISHES THE BEST POSSIBLE MACHINERY FOR BRINGING VILLAGE GRAFTERS TO PUNISHMENT.” In the last line of the article, voters were encouraged to vote for incorporation as the next step forward for this community.  The Record of April 5, 1918 notified readers that a mass meeting would be held in the New Opera House to discuss all matters of concern.    A special invitation to the meeting was extended to the almost one hundred women in the proposed village district.  During the meeting, the issues of concern were addressed to the satisfaction of the audience.  Each concern was shown to be “either far fetched or made up by opponents of incorporation.”

The vote was held shortly after the April 5th meeting.  Two hundred seventy-eight people voted: two hundred thirteen (one hundred of which were women) in favor, sixty-four against incorporation, and one vote was voided.  It was reported in the April 12, 1918 issue of The Record that “…the women can be counted on in progressive movements, if the matter is conducted ‘above the board’ as the recent campaign was in every instance.”

The next step after incorporation took place on May 21,1918 in an election that was held to elect   village officials.  It was again noted in The Record that many women exercised their right to vote.  H.O. Button became the President; Dr. L.G. Tuttle and Fred T. Hopkins were elected as trustees; L. H. Clark became the treasurer; and Jennie E. Sentell was elected as the collector.  According to the article, “These citizens will not mix village affairs with politics and they are honest and capable.  Sodus is starting out well in the matter of incorporation.”

And so that’s how our village came into existence.   Today our village officials and our village crews continue to work to improve our village which the citizens in the early 20th Century worked so hard to create.

To read more about our Village of Sodus Incorporation and other events in local history, go to the digital archives at the Sodus Community Library at

http://sodus.advantage-preservation.com.

Join us in the festivities during the Sodus Village Incorporation Centennial Celebration on Saturday, August 11th, 2018 on Main Street in Sodus.

Sandra Hamilton

March 25,2018