An effort to have our local Post Office renamed in honor of Belva Lockwood is to be commended because of the contribution Mrs. Lockwood made to women’s rights and her impact on the landscape of our society. However, we would be doing a great disservice to our community and its historical significance if Senator Schumer’s proposed legislation were to pass.
Owego’s history is rich with women and men who played vital roles in the shaping of this village, our region, the State, our Country and the world. So when we consider changing the name of The Owego Post Office to honor an important historical person with ties to Owego we should consider doing so to recognize one of our own and bring that person’s story to light.
While Belva Lockwood played an important role in the Country’s emerging history she was not, in truth, a child of Owego. She spent three years here as an educator and principal of Owego Female Seminary, after which she left the community only to return one last time in 1909. She had no other ties to Owego other than the lives she had an opportunity to impact during her brief residency. Belva Lockwood’s legacy and contribution restored the former seminary building in her name. Renaming the Post Office in her name would be an unnecessary redundancy.
If we are to consider honoring an important historical figure from Owego, I would suggest we do so by renaming our local Post Office for Dr. Helen Dean King (1869-1955). Unlike Belva Lockwood, Dr. King was born and raised in Owego and went on to become one of the world’s preeminent scientists of her time. Her family roots are rich and deep in Owego and include other prominent members of this community.
Dr. King graduated from Vassar and went on to receive her doctorate from Bryn Mawr. She later joined the Wistar Institute, one of the world’s leading cancer research institutes, where her work literally reshaped its mission. She was a brilliant scholar and researcher. To this day one of the institute’s highest awards given to the most important female scientists is the “Helen Dean King” award. Her contributions to her field helped reshape scientific research and its impact on all mankind.
While her story may not be familiar to many in the area, neither was Belva Lockwood’s until the Lovelace’s brought it forward with the restoration of the Owego Female Seminary. Therefore I think it is important that we, as a community, do the same for one of our own, one who’s contributions were just as important to the world, if not more so.
We now know who Belva Lockwood was and her importance in our society, which will always be a part of Owego’s history through the Belva Lockwood Inn. We can do no less for someone whose impact on the world was so significant than by bringing forth Dr. King’s remarkable story and honoring her name on our Post Office.
It is the responsibility of everyone who cares about our community’s history and the great women who helped shape it to encourage Senator Schumer to reconsider the proposed legislation in honor of Dr. Helen Dean King.