Vermont Women's History Project
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FEATURED WOMEN:
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St. Albans

St. Albans Historical Museum

St. Albans MuseumDescription
: Large fixed exhibit museum with exhibits on Louella Kittell, whose actual classroom is there, where she taught for 50 years, Anna Eliza Smith, (daughter of Lawerence Brainerd, married Gregory Smith ,Governor in Civil War, mother of Edward Smith, Governor during Spanish-American War.  She was a prolific writer - the museum has all her papers and letters.) Also Grace Sherwood, first female surgeon in Vermont. Other well known St. Albans women include Frances Frost, Janet Smith, Miranda Aldis Brainerd.

Directions: From I89, Exit 19, turn right at light onto 104. At next 4 way intersection, turn left onto Fairfield Street to Downtown St. Albans. Turn right onto Church Street, top of Taylor Park. Museum is 2nd building in on right. Park in back.

Hours and Contact Info: Mid June through September, M – F 1 – 4p.m.,Fridays 7 –9 p.m. June and July. Other times by appt. 527-7933

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is located on Main Street, bottom of Taylor Park.

Women of Note in St. Albans

Miranda Aldis Brainerd

information courtesy of Saint Pierre Farms

Miranda was the daughter of Lawrence Brainerd and Fidelia Burnett Gadcomb. She was born in St. Albans on December 12, 1841. She attended school in Brattleboro, Vermont.

On July 26, 1862, Miranda married a man by the name of Farrand Stewart Stranahan. They had two children, Mabel, who died in infancy, and Farrand, who eventually lived in Providence, Rhode Island.

In 1986, Miranda became a charter member of the Bellevue Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, located in St. Albans. She became Regent of that chapter on May 1, 1902 and served that term until March 27, 1903.

Following this, Miranda was State Regent of the DAR from 1903 to 1907. Her Revolutionary War ancestor was Captain David Smith. The national DAR number that was assigned to her was 3,816.

Miranda was involved in several other organizations. She was a member of the Vermont Society of Colonial Dames. While a member of this organization, she was elected its third Vice-President and she later became President. Two other organizations she participated in were the Daughters of 1812 and Descendants of the Mayflower.

Aside from her involvement with organizations, Miranda was known to have rare musical ability. She died in St. Albans, Vermont on December 17, 1909.

 

Frances Frost

Download Francis Frost information (PDF) from Those Indomitable Vermont Women booklet by the Vermont State Division of the American Association of University Women

Download Francis Frost information (PDF) by Margaret Edwards

 

Jeanne E. Kerbs
information courtesy of Saint Pierre Farms

Although Mrs. Jeanne Kerbs was not from Franklin County, she is still a noted individual of the area. Mrs. Kerbs' relationship with St. Albans started on August 14, 1941. Her son, John Spiess Kerbs, while at Kamp Kill Kare, was shot in the leg by another camper. He was rushed to the nearest hospital, which happened to be in St. Albans. John nearly bled to death. Dr. Leon E Samples saved his life and his leg.

Mrs. Kerbs was so grateful to the community for the support that they had shown to her family that she wanted to repay their kindness. The Kerbs were from New York City and financially well off, so Jeanne decided to donate money to the hospital for construction of a facility that would later be known as Kerbs Memorial Hospital. Plans were laid to give this area the best medical care, the latest medical technology and the most modem, progressive rural hospital, and Mrs. Kerbs was closely involved with the planning process.

In the opening ceremony for the building, Mrs. Kerbs thanked the community and dedicated the facility to her father and a wing was named after Dr. Sample.

The Kerbs family continued to support the hospital over time.

Louella Kittell
information courtesy of Saint Pierre Farms

Miss Kittell was born on May 22,1897 in Sheldon Junction, Vermont. In 1904, at the age of 7, she moved to St. Albans City with her mother and sisters where she lived for the rest of her life. Louella attended UVM, where she graduated with a degree in Education. After college, she went into teachers training in Swanton. Her daily ride to Swanton on the streetcar cost 10 cents.

Her first teaching assignment, in 1917, was in North Calais, where she taught all grades for nine years. She then became principal in Derby. After returning to St. Albans, she finished her 50-year teaching career, teaching 7th grade for 41 years, in the building that is now the home of the St. Albans Museum.

While teaching, she started Kittell's Guest House in 1935, a local boarding house, with her mother and sisters, which she continued to run to the age of 100.

Janice Smith
information courtesy of Saint Pierre Farms

On March 4, 1980, Janet Smith, Republican Alderman of Ward 1 in St. Albans, became the first woman mayor of St. Albans City, with the votes running 1,175 to 1,041 in her favor. Mayor Smith and her husband lived in a house on Congress Street. Mrs. Smith was sworn in on March 10, 1980.

On Sunday, March 16,1980 after having just moved into her office and begun to take on the responsibilities of her position, Mayor Smith was shot at her home. She received injuries to her right side and head. Mrs. Smith was taken to the Kerbs Unit of the Northwestern Medical Center. Later that day, police arrested Tauno Jurva, 61, for the shooting. Mr. Jurva worked for the Smith family as a handyman and caretaker for Mr. Smith.

Jurva lived with the family on Congress Street. People had heard shots and Mrs. Smith crying out from her upstairs window. When police came to the house, they found her husband, Gregory Smith, 91, on the floor at her side. Mrs. Smith had the courage to write a note. The note said "Tauna Jurva shot me once in the stomach and once in the head. " Janet Smith died the next day from her injuries. Jurva was charged with murder. Police found a 22 caliber revolver in Jurva's car. Questions still remain as to why Jurva shot Mayor Smith. There are many theories. Jurva went to trial and eventually to prison.

Mayor Smith had a son, Jim Lang Jr. of Boston, and a daughter, Mrs. Janet Manning of Fairfax. Other family members included stepchildren, a brother, two sisters, five grandchildren, and many more.

As a quote from the St. Albans Messenger reads "Janet Smith did prove a few things to us. Her election shelved the notion that a woman could not gain our trust for the city's highest elective office. Her candidacy, while based in one of our more affluent neighborhoods, gained the support of voters across the spectrum of economic and social standing. And she may have breathed some new life into the home crowd of the Republican Party." It also stated, "Janet Smith deserves to be remembered as a person with the gumption to be our first woman mayor, an achievement made even more prestigious by the fact that she was a Republican mayor in a heavily Democratic populated city."

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