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First woman pharmacist - Another of Pittsford’s firsts


Miss Mary Elizabeth Hartman was born March 21, 1862 in Hall's Corners, NY. She and her family, consisting of mother and father, Dr. William Hartman, moved to Rochester and then to Pittsford. Miss Hartman attended Pen Yan Academy and with her intelligence and determination, she did very well in school. She watched her father for many years and learned from him how to run a pharmacy.

When Mary Elizabeth was in her later years of schooling, she decided that her name was too long and she wanted to change it. She liked the name of Lillian and so became Lillie Hartman.

Lillie watched her father and helped him in the store. She tried numerous times to take the pharmacist examination and each time she was told she could not because she was a woman and only men could be pharmacists. But Lillie was persistent and eventually she was informed that the test would be given on Nov. 26, 1886. That notice was received by Ms. Hartman on the afternoon of Nov. 25 and the test was to be held in Geneva. Lillie had to make quick arrangement to take the Auburn RR early in the morning and get to the building where the test was to be given. As luck would have it, the train was late and she almost missed the chance to take the test. But she was successful in her efforts and she passed with the highest mark in the class. There were 42 candidates and 29 of them passed. She was awarded her certificate to practice, the first woman Pharmacist in New York State.

The Hartman Pharmacy was located at 33 South Main Street, now the home of Nothnagle Realtors. After her father died, Lillie and her mother, Caroline ran the business under the name of C&L Pharmacy. The store was set up like many other pharmacies at the turn of the century. It was arranged with an aisle running down the middle. On the left were the non-prescription drugs and a short ways further down that side were the prescription drugs, all neatly arranged in colorful apothecary jars. On the right side of the store the shelves were filled with all the patent medicines. On either side of the front door, were two large windows that contained two huge apothecary jars filled with blue and red liquid and lighted by a kerosene lamp placed at the rear of each. These gave off a lovely light and worked very well as a sign (not a red or blue neon OPEN sign we see today)/ Nowhere were there gallons of milk, or batteries, or soap powder, some of the sundries found in pharmacies of today which closely resemble a grocery store.

Lillie ran that store until a grocery business approached her to buy the building and it became the A&P Grocery Store. Lillie continued to live in the community in a home on South Main Street, almost opposite the store. It was located next to the Christ Episcopal Church and was torn down in the 1940's to make room for the first expansion of the church.

Lillie was an avid photographer and we have some of her photos. She also enjoyed sports and played tennis in a club she and the Sutherland sisters began. She was also a contributing reporter to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. Lillie was a member of the Pittsford Presbyterian Church, a member of the Kings Circle that was known for its charitable work.

Pittsford was very proud of this enterprising woman and with her determination and perseverance, became a pioneer. Lillian (Mary Elizabeth) Hartman died in 1943.