Frances Belle Eddy ’12 was born in Waterloo, N.Y., in 1888 and grew up on North Main Street in Geneva, just a few blocks from her future alma mater. She was five when the Smith Opera House was built. Her Geneva High School transcript records an academic career marked by interests evenly split between the sciences and the arts. She had every intention of majoring in the classics at William Smith but apparently, once here, was drawn to English and biology, two of her three majors, the other being education. As a member of William Smith’s charter class, she sang for four years in the Glee Club and various operettas.
After Frances graduated, she taught English, biology and German in the Manchester school district. On June 29, 1915, she married John Robert Houston at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. After marrying, Frances moved back to Geneva – to 477 South Main Street, a row house near Pulteney Park, where she lived for the rest of her life.
She was a communicant at St. Peter’s for more than 50 years and was chair of the committee that raised $1,500 to restore the building’s stained glass. She was regent of the Seneca Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and president of the Geneva Women’s Club and the Geneva Historical Society, which she served for 24 years.
In 1950, Frances was appointed historian of the City of Geneva, the first woman to hold the office. She served in that capacity for 10 years, resigning shortly before her death on June 25, 1960.
Throughout her life, Frances remained a writer. She had several poems published in anthologies and was included in the 1945 Who’s Who in Poetry. She wrote extensively about her family’s genealogy. In 1959, she authored an eight-column series of stories for the Geneva Times on the lives of the men and women who made Geneva famous. One year before her death, she profiled William Smith.
Frances was an active William Smith College volunteer. She served as president of the Geneva chapter and treasurer of the Alumnae Association. She was especially influential in planning the celebration of William Smith College’s 50th anniversary.
One of Frances’ greatest legacies to William Smith College is the scrapbook she lovingly kept during her four years here. Of all the source materials on the charter class, hers is arguably the most intimate and rich, full of notes on all William Smith “firsts.”