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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

MOUNT INEZ | 100 Years Later, Lewis Makes Name Change Stick

From the Elizabethtown Post, December 7, 1916.
October 9, 2019–Yesterday evening, the Lewis (Essex County, NY) Town Council voted to rename Mount Discovery. The new name is "Mount Inez".

The mountain is named after Inez Milholland Boissevain (1886-1916), who spent her childhood and summers here and is buried on a hill in the graveyard behind the Lewis church.

This is the fulfillment of a name change made after Inez's  death in 1916, by the then-owner of the property, John E. Milholland, her father. 

The commitment was at that time apparently formalized by the then government of the Town of Lewis. It was announced in the Elizabethtown Post on December 7, 1916, and was featured on the front page of the New York Times a few days later. 

However, the name change was not forwarded to and memorialized by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USBGN), part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, or the New York State Board on Geographic Names.  

Through diligent work by Nancy Duff Campbell, a century later this error was yesterday rectified as a vote was taken by the Lewis Town Council in favor of the name change. Your blogger sent the following letter to the Lewis Town Council in advance of the meeting, and to the USBGN. That evening, the Lewis Town Board formally approved the name change. The last stop in the process will be at the USBGN.
October 8, 2019 
To the Lewis Town Council, Lewis, NY 
Dear Supervisor Monty and the Lewis Town Council, 
This is to support renaming Mt. Discovery as Mt. Inez. 
I am a huge fan of Inez Milholland. She was married to the brother, Dutchman Eugen Boissevain of my grandmother (Olga Boissevain). My mother met Inez when Inez was first married in 1913 and the couple went to visit Eugen's relatives in Holland. My mother described Inez to me in great detail, how sweet-smelling she was and how she brought with her a gift of a Kewpie Doll (the doll with little wings in the back), which was the rage at the time. 
Inez proposed to Eugen on the Cunard ship Mauretania and they were married in the Kensington Town Hall in London on Bastille Day 1913. The idea was they wanted to go to Holland as a married couple, not just engaged. They were going to keep it a secret from Inez's father, John Milholland. By this time Inez was already a national figure, having led the suffrage parades in New York and Washington, DC. She was also well known in London as a disciple of the Pankhursts (she was proud to call herself a Suffragette, as the Pankhurst followers did, not just a suffragist). 
So the attempt to keep the wedding a secret was futile. It was featured on the front page of all the newspapers and that's where John E. Milholland read about it in the New York Times the next day. He wanted Inez to marry Guglielmo Marconi, the radio guy, who actually proposed to Inez on another Cunard ship when Inez was not yet in college. Inez accepted, but Marconi's Irish mother (a cousin of Eugen's Irish mother) was distressed that Inez would go to the United States and talked her son out of it. Inez later said she loved the radio but didn't want to marry it. 
In an effort to keep the memory of Inez memory alive, I wrote a play about her that was produced as a staged reading in the Lewis church where she is buried (it was also staged in six other locations). I maintain a website about her, www.inezmb.blogspot.com. I was the secretary and organizer of a national committee to pay for the restoration of the iconic painting of Inez that hangs in the Belmont-Paul building next to the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington (https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2010/04/inez-milholland-portrait-restoration-planned.html. The Committee was headed by members of the Boissevain (notably Al Boissevain, Eugen's nephew) and Milholland families and included Margaret Gibbs of the Essex County Historical Society. The painting was restored to the highest standards. 
A century ago, the Lewis Town Council reportedly decided to rename the mountain. It's not too late to make good on the promise. The world owns the memory of Inez Milholland, but only Lewis owns her gravesite and the mountain that your predecessors in office promised to rename in her honor. As the logline of a recent movie, "The Silent Soldier and the Portrait," puts it, "If the Universe offers you a second chance, take it."
John
John Tepper Marlin, Ph.D.                                                                      teppermarlin@aol.com . personal cell: 646-250-4915

2 comments:

  1. John, this is very well done. I am sure this made a big difference. Ben

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  2. Thank you, John, what a beautiful letter. Love your mother's description of meeting Inez! For those of you who'd like to carry forth Inez's legacy and see her story brought to the silver screen, we have an exceptional, gender-equal production team working with a non-profit production company on this project: www.InezMilhollandFilm.com Here's to Mt. Inez!

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