On Tuesday, December 18, 1923, an election was held in Holland to decide whether the village should be incorporated. The vote was 96 for and 41 against. Mabel Hovey was then elected as the first mayor with no opposition and became one of two women mayors in Ohio at that time, the other being in Lake County. She served in this capacity until 1925 when she declined to run for a second term. She believed that “what Holland has been is nothing compared to what it could be” and worked for Holland as a duty in which she always took great pleasure.
Miss Hovey had been born in Springfield Township in October 1878, the daughter of George E. and Adelaide S. Hovey, who in addition to Mabel had 4 other children: Mildred B., Myra C., Jay P., and Edgar C. They came to Springfield Township from Camden, Lorain County, Ohio between 1870 and 1880 with his father and mother, Alvan and Sarah (Cook) Hovey. Mabel’s father and grandparents were from Vermont, while her mother had been born in England.
The parents of Alvan Hovey, John and Elizabeth Owen (Hill) Hovey, came to Ohio in 1833 or 1834, settling in Troy Township, Athens County, Ohio. Alvan was a soldier at Columbia Barracks in Clark County, Oregon Territory in 1850 while his parents had moved to Camden with the rest of their family.
The Hovey family were early settlers in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and her ancestor, Daniel, had immigrated in 1635, when he was seventeen years old. He was involved in the wars with the New England Indians and after suffering much from those incidents, died in 1692.
Mabel attended school in Springfield Township and graduated from the first class of Holland High School in 1898 that had one other graduate, Eathel (Ethel) Wood. She must have received a teaching certificate by 1900 since in that year she was listed as a public school teacher in the census.
The picture of the students and teacher at Richfield Center School in 1896 shows her on the back row to the far right. By 1910 she had moved to Township 7, Range 4, District 38, Jefferson County, Montana, where she again is listed as a public school teacher. By 1920 she was back in Holland living with her widowed mother, and along with her lifelong friend, Eathel (Ethel) Wood, taught in the Eight Square School House on what is now Garden Road. She taught school for a total of 35 years in both Montana and Springfield
She was one of the organizers of the Holland / Springfield High School Alumni Association and served as president of that group. She also was the Superintendent of Sunday School at the Holland (Clark) Memorial Methodist Church, serving the congregation as their treasurer and being involved in the Ladies Aid Society and a member of the Women’s Society of Christian Service. Before there were such things as branch libraries or bookmobiles, Mabel and her mother used a room in their house to provide library services to the village. Days were set aside when both children and adults could visit the Hovey home and borrow or read the books available. She supported the organization of the Strawberry Festival in Holland and served as a judge of special events in 1938 with her mother and other citizens of the village. By World War II, she had become incapacitated and was confined to a wheel chair. She still was involved in the community and collected the names of servicemen and women in the township and organized a group to erect a board bearing their names in the village. One of the memories of her was that she was spoken of with great respect and that although frail before her passing, she still had a strong voice and a positive attitude. Mabel died on September 21, 1946, and is buried in Springfield Township Cemetery.