OSWEGO — The Oswego County Historical Society will host its annual meeting presentation on May 19 at 1:30 p.m. in the banquet hall of the historic Oswego Elks Club at 132 W. Fifth St. in Oswego.
During a public meeting, acting-president Mary Kay Stone will present a brief annual report of the projects, events and accomplishments of the year.
Immediately following will be a special keynote presentation by local author Ann Callaghan Allen titled “The Extraordinary Life and Tragic Death of Madame Malvina Guimaraes.”
“The annual meeting is an important part of our organization. Anyone interested in preserving our local history is welcome to attend,” said Stone. “There is always so much that has been accomplished every year and we look forward to sharing it with our members and the community. In addition, the keynote presentation on an Oswego legend is going to be an exciting one.”
Allen is an Oswego native and retired professor who has written a biography of Madame Malvina Guimaraes.
“She is a legendary woman in Oswego history with a rags to riches tale. Over time the life of Madame Guimaraes has been filled with local lore and now the real story is surfacing,” said Justin White, OCHS board trustee and Oswego County Historian. “I first learned about her life at a young age when researching the history of the Oswego Elks Lodge historic home, the last place she owned and lived in. I was amazed by her story which is more fascinating that fiction. Sadly, her iconic monument located at her final resting place in Riverside Cemetery on the outskirts of town is in total disrepair.”
Local civic leader Ruth Sayer has been a benefactor of Riverside Cemetery for many years and one of her dreams has been to restore the Guimaraes gravesite to its former glory.
The lavish monument was made in Portugal in 1877 and shipped to the United States.
There are more than a dozen family members buried with her.
Allen heard of this story last year and was inspired by Sayer.
Allen agreed with everyone involved that Madame Guimaraes deserved to have her story told.
She also wanted to help the decades old dream of many to have the gravesite restored.
“Malvina Guimaraes was a pioneer businesswoman, creating her own business empire as the first person to market sewing machines in Brazil,” said Allen. “In a time when women struggled for equality, she defied the conventions of the day and amassed a fortune.”
The biography of Madame Guimaraes highlights her extraordinary accomplishments.
It also details the cause of her tragic death that came from the struggle and control of her fortune through her final estate.
The incredible story of Madame Guimaraes begins with her becoming one the first women to market sewing machines, which was the first home appliance women could buy.
Her life journey took her to South America, where she lived and operated her business.
She and her husband also lived in his native home of Portugal.
In her later years she decided to reconnect with her family and settled in the high society of 19th century Oswego.
“Her final home was the Oswego Elks Lodge historic house and the amazing account of Madame Guimaraes will be told there,” said White. “The lodge has generously supported the launch of the restoration project.”
Proceeds from the book will go towards the restoration fund of the Guimaraes gravesite, which will be coordinated through the Friends of Riverside Cemetery.
More information about how to support the project will be launched at the annual meeting.
The meeting is free and open to the public.
Prospective members are also encouraged to attend to help the society continue to preserve the area’s rich local history.
The yearly membership drive is in effect and membership forms will be available.
The Oswego County Historical Society is a non-profit organization founded in 1896 and dedicated to the preservation, promotion and interpretation of the historical resources of the county.
The society owns and operates the Richardson-Bates House Museum at 135 E. Third St. in Oswego, a landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The museum is open for tours Thursday through Saturday from 1 – 5 p.m. and other times by appointment.
For more information visit the website at www.rbhousemuseum.org or contact the museum during regular hours at 315-343-1342.