Location #1: NYS Historical Marker at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center at 146-140 US-11, Cortland, NY
The daughter of an abolitionist, Lydia Strowbridge was born into the fight for equal rights. Considered an invalid in her youth, she did not allow her ill health to prevent her from becoming a force of nature.
Sporting her signature Freedom Dress, and long bloomers, Lydia attended Hygeio-Therapeutic Medical College of New York City becoming one of Cortland County’s earliest female physicians.
Dr. Lydia Strowbridge focused all her time and energy on women’s and children’s health, championing dress reform, women’s rights, abolition, and temperance. She was known to be sympathetic to the plight of an unwed woman and endeared herself to all her patients with her sympathetic and kind treatment.
Location #2: Gravesite Sec. S Lot 40 at Cortland Rural Cemetery at 110 Tompkins Street, Cortland, NY
Being so unabashedly progressive and outspoken, well before her time, was not without its dangers. In February of 1879, while staying at the home of one of her three sons, Lydia was violently attacked. Her son and daughter-in-law were out for the evening, leaving Lydia alone in the house. In the black of midnight, two men emboldened by drink began pounding on the basement door where a tenet lived. Lydia threw the window open and shouted for them to leave. This only infuriated them further, and they threatened to kick down the door. As the men broke in, Lydia attempted to flee to nearby neighbors for help. Not quick enough, they caught her by the hair, throwing her to the ground, and repeatedly struck her head. She bravely fought them off, her screams frightening them away. Lydia, furious and full of adrenalin, pursued her attackers where she identified them ducking into a nearby saloon. Her courage and presence of mind lead to the men’s arrest.
Lydia died as she lived, caring for others. Even when cancer ravaged her body, she practiced medicine until just three months before her own death. A respected suffragette, Dr. Lydia Strowbridge’s memory is honored throughout Cortland County.
1. Stoessel, Steve. “Suffragist Historical Marker”. Hmdb.Org, 2020, https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=154512.
2. Scoville, Tabitha. “Streets Of Cortland: Monroe Heights : Cortland County Historical Society”. Cortland County Historical Society, 2022, https://cortlandhistory.org/streets-of-cortland-monroe-heights.
3. Cemetery, Cortland et al. “Dr Lydia A. Hammond Strowbridge (1830-1904) – Find…”. Findagrave.Com, 2022, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/114780626/lydia-a-strowbridge.