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Vincent House will showcase historical women of FD

Program today examines four locals who challenged societal norms

January 22, 2012
By JOE SUTTER, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

The Vincent House will host a dramatic historical presentation today, showcasing four remarkable women from Fort Dodge.

This will be the first time they have undertaken this kind of re-enactment program, Merrily Dixon, chairman of the Vincent House Events Committee, said.

"We went out and recruited some people to play the roles, and we got a great response, so this probably won't be the last time we do it."

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
LibbIE Hyman, as portrayed by Sharon Rosalez, will be among the four local women whose lives will be showcased at the Vincent House today.

The four women who will be portrayed "challenged the conditions and issues of their times. Now, all but forgotten, their lives deserve to be remembered," according to a press release.

Adeline Morrison Swain, a pioneer settler from New England, came to Fort Dodge before the Civil War; she and her husband built the Vincent House. She was one of the early leaders in the Women's Rights Movement in Iowa. She will be portrayed by Susan Ahlers Leman.

Libbie Hyman, daughter of the first Jewish resident of Fort Dodge, overcame discrimination to attend the University of Chicago and become a zoologist. She will be portrayed by Sharon Rosalez.

Fact Box

If you go:

What: Re-enactment of the lives of Adeline Morrison Swain, Libbie Hyman, Lucille Baker and Jett Wray

When: 2 to 4 p.m. today

Where: Vincent House, 824 Third Ave. S.

Cost: Freewill donation

Lucille Baker, the second African-American woman to graduate from Fort Dodge Senior High, overcame racial and economic barriers to obtain many academic achievements. She will be portrayed by Helen Miller.

Jett Wray, a flamboyant Fort Dodge hostess of the Wraywood Tea Room and the Fort Dodge Country Club, was the first Iowa woman to run for Congress after women won the right to vote. She will be portrayed by Ann Powers.

According to Dixon, the committee tries to put on a program like this about once a month.

"We try to keep it open for the public as much as possible," she said of the Victorian-era Vincent House, which was donated to the YWCA in 1969.

Past events have included vocal and visual arts presentations; "Music at the Mansion," which featured ragtime, barbershop quartet singing, and other music from the Victorian period; and an Immigrant Stories night, where patrons heard the experiences of five individuals from different countries at different points in their lives.

"They told about coming to Fort Dodge and how they missed their homeland. It was interesting to see how people coming from different countries were having the same feelings," Dixon said.

The event today will be from 2-4 p.m. at the Vincent House, 824 Third Ave S. Local actresses will portray the historical women in first person, wearing period costumes. Refreshments will be served following the program, and historical photos will be available for viewing. A freewill donation will be taken to support the Vincent House.

The next scheduled event will be a Victorian Valentine Affair on Feb 12. Participants will create Victorian-style valentines, and enjoy Victorian tea. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the YWCA at 573-3931.

Of today's historical presentation, Dixon said hopefully people will "learn that even from a small town in Iowa, great things can happen."

Contact Joe Sutter at (515) 573-2141 or



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