Press-Republican

Local News

February 12, 2013

Historic polling place to close

FORT COVINGTON — After more than 100 years, Fort Covington is losing its storied polling place at the Effie Ellsworth home at 1156 County Road 4.

The Franklin County Board of Elections is consolidating its polling sites and will move all district voting for the town to the Fort Covington Fire Department instead.

Mrs. Ellsworth’s daughter, Elizabeth Mount, and her husband, Warren Mount, had hosted town elections at the family homestead since the 1940s.

The property was settled in 1807 as part of the original Ellsworth Farm and is known now as Maple Mount Farm in the hamlet of Fort Covington Center.

The property had been a polling site since the early 1900s, when turn-of-the-century farmers were still using horse and buggy for transportation. They couldn’t easily travel the 10-mile round trip to Fort Covington to vote, so the alternate location was created.

A voting machine was hauled to the farm, and a tractor was used to place it in the home’s country kitchen.

Once the farmers cast their ballot each year, they would typically stay to visit.

Legislator Guy “Tim” Smith (D-Fort Covington) said some residents will be upset with the change in polling sites because generations of families have voted at the Ellsworth farm.

“They came on oxen, then covered wagons, then in Model Ts and in Mercedes-Benz now,” he said, adding that the old-fashioned interior of the polling place had its own charm.

“There’s the old sink and old crank phone,” Smith said.

He noted that Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) visited once and was pleased and shocked how historically authentic everything was.

“It’s going to hurt a little bit, but they’ll get over it,” the legislator said of the site’s closure.

— Contributing Writer Susan Tobias contributed to this report.

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