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Belva Ann Lockwood - Changing Worlds

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Belva Ann Bennett was the second of five children born to Hannah Green and Lewis Johnson Bennett. She was born Belva Ann Lockwood. (The Library of Congress)
in October 1830 on a farm in Niagara County, New York. Belva did her chores on the farm and attended a one-room country school until she was fifteen. Poor family finances required her to get a job teaching at the country school to earn tuition to attend the Girls' Academy in Royalton. Belva graduated in May 1848 and married Uriah H. McNall that fall. The couple had a daughter in July 1849 and named her Lura.

In May 1853 Uriah died of complications from a sawmill injury. Left to raise their young daughter alone, Belva made the difficult decision to leave Lura in the care of her parents and move to Lima, New York, to pursue an education. She attended Genessee Wesleyan Seminary and then went on to Genessee College (later known as Syracuse University). Belva received a bachelor of science degree in 1857 and accepted a position as principal of Lockport Union School in New York. During her term, Belva introduced progressive ideas to the school's curriculum, including public speaking and physical activities for the girls. She soon learned that male teachers earned twice as much as women for the same work. Belva joined the campaign to obtain equal pay for women teachers. She also took advantage of an opportunity to attend a course in law offered by a local attorney.


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