JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — Traci Langworthy is a history professor at Jamestown Community College, which includes a class on women's history.

"We celebrate individual women throughout the course. Everyone researches a different woman that they share about in class," said Traci.

What You Need To Know

  • Ellen Yates Miller was born in Jamestown and was the first female elected to a county clerk post in New York state

  • Miller served from 1919 until 1940 when she died in office

  • A historical marker is located outside the county courthouse in Mayville and across the street from what's believed to be her office

  • Miller is buried in Jamestown's Lakeview Cemetery

One of those women was Ellen Yates Miller, serving Chautauqua County as the first woman in the state to be elected county clerk in 1919. Traci says many of the male title searchers in the office refused to work with her.

"So she had her female clerical staff there in the clerk's office started to take on those responsibilities," said Traci.

Traci says Ellen worked to break down barriers the minute she was elected, and like many women, exemplified a high degree of public service to their community.

"And I think about that generation before the 19th Amendment, before women had the right to vote, women had to really be resourceful and creative to find ways to get their viewpoints known and contribute to the public good," said Traci.

A historical marker is located outside the county courthouse in Mayville and across the street from what's believed to be Ellen's office.

"Capturing the history of women's accomplishments and how things have changed. It was unheard of for a woman to have that kind of a position," said Devon Taylor, historian for the town of Chautauqua and the village of Mayville.

Devon works inside the current county clerk's office, where Ellen's portrait hangs on the wall.

"It's really interesting and it's wonderful that she was here. It was a big step forward for women," said Devon.

Traci says the women were active members of several suffrage organizations known as political equality organizations.

"Those organizations weren't just about getting the right to vote. They were about public service. They were teaching women public service. They were teaching women citizenship skills," said Traci.

Ellen died in office after 20 years of service in 1940. 

"And when she passed away, there were several hundred people who attended her funeral, so that's indicative of the fact that she really had a lot of public support and was a respected member of her community," said Traci.

Ellen is buried in Jamestown's Lakeview Cemetery.

At the same time Ellen was elected Chautauqua County clerk, Mary Barger was elected Jamestown city clerk.