Toy and Game Exhibit

We had such a great time with Christopher Bensch from The National Toy Hall of Fame last Saturday, who presented the program for our annual meeting last Saturday. Now, our museum has a special toy exhibit of its own. Come and see.



Historical Display coming to Library

With the rest of America, came late to the fighting in World War I. Following President Wilson’s message to Congress and the declaration of war on April 6, 1917, New York mobilized.

Eventually, over 500,000 New Yorkers were in military service, the largest contingent from any state. Led by strong government promotion, communities statewide rallied to support the troops and the Allied cause. Citizens signed on to local defense committees, joined the medical corps or the Red Cross, bought Liberty Bonds, worked the farms, knitted socks, conserved food and fuel, and kept an active home vigil.

Approximately 1700 men from Livingston County left their families and work behind to answer the call to duty along with an untold number of women who served as nurses at home and overseas. More than 50 soldiers, sailors, and Marines from this area paid the ultimate sacrifice and hundreds returned home with physical and emotional scars. Men, women, and children who served on the home front also endured tremendous hardship.

The Livingston County Historian’s Office is fortunate to have a large archival collection related to World War I and is grateful to past and present historians, the New York State Archives, and National Archives for preserving these important artifacts that help to tell the story of the war to end all wars. A display commemorating this historical event will be in the Dansville Public Library from October 15 – November 11.

DAHS Annual Dinner Program Oct. 27

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Vice President for Collections and Chief Curator

The Strong

In 1989, Christopher Bensch became one of the curators at The Strong museum in Rochester, New York, with responsibility for a wide array of items—furniture and cookware, record albums and televisions, Big Mac boxes and Halloween costumes. Since 2004, Chris has served as Vice President for Collections with oversight of the museum’s curatorial, conservation, and library functions and the more than 480,000 objects make it the largest, most comprehensive collection of toys, games, dolls, and video games in the world.

At The Strong, Chris has acted as curator for numerous exhibits including Reading Adventureland and Field of Play, the major exhibits that opened in 2006 as part of The Strong’s $37-million expansion that almost doubled the size of the museum. Most recently he has overseen production of the museum’s two newest 2nd floor exhibits—the Toy Halls of Fame that opened in September 2015 and America at Play that opened in December 2016.

Chris also serves as the primary spokesperson for the National Toy Hall of Fame which, every November, selects two or three classic toys deserving that special honor. Representing the Hall of Fame, Chris has hula hooped on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, recounted the history of Slinky and Silly Putty on the Travel Channel’s Mysteries at the Museum series, and appeared live on MSNBC and on ABC’s Good Morning America Sunday. He’s also taken part in numerous radio shows, including NPR’s Weekend Edition and All Things Considered.

DAHS next program: Battle Street Brewery

The Dansville Area Historical Society will be conducting its next program, “Battle Street Brewery” at 6:30 p.m. on Wed., April 18 in the North Dansville Town Hall auditorium. The program will be presented by Doug Acomb and Marissa Siciliano and will focus on the concept and history of the brewery as well as the history of the train depot. The program is free and open to the public. There will be a tour of the brewery available after the program.

Historical Society Museum open every Saturday until Dec. 23


Historical Society notecards
Notecards with a hometown flavor, new to the Dansville Area Historical Society museum gift shop.

Looking for a Christmas gift with a little local flavor? The Dansville Area Historical Society Museum is open every Saturday from now until Dec. 23 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. In our gift area, you can find notecards, cutting boards, Christmas ornaments, throw rugs, “hometown collectible” figurines of local places, plus books on local history. Perhaps you want to give someone the gift of an annual Society membership for Christmas?

All proceeds from the sales of our gifts benefit the museum and help bring you programs throughout the year.

Not to mention, of course, our museum is free and open to the public. Located at 14 Church St., Dansville.



Hall of Fame members inducted

DAHS inductees

(Above) Accepting certificates for Dansville Area Historical Society’s Hall of Fame were Jim Blum (grandson of John Blum), Jane Schryver, Joan Hart (daughter of Robert Hart) and Laura Kreiley (niece of Robert Hart). Photo provided by Nancy Helfrich

During its annual dinner meeting October 28 in the Daniel Goho American Legion Post, Dansville Area Historical Society inducted 10 new members into its Hall of Fame.

The hall of fame was originally introduced in 1989 with 10 recipients, then again with another 10 in 1995. When the society decided it was time for a new round of recipients, museum curator David Gilbert assembled a team of local historians for a nominating committee. The team came up with more than 30 names, which were later pared down to the final 10. The 10 consisted of well-known names throughout Dansville’s longtime history from its inception to the present.

The following were named:

George Hyland, Sr. 1803-1880

Owner of several local businesses, including American Hotel and Dansville Pail Factory. Led the winning faction in the 1844 ‘canal battle” waged against canal workmen when Main Street businessmen wanted to extend the canal to the center of town. Battle Street stands where the canal extension ran. State Assemblyman, 1861.

George Sweet 1818-1894

Inventor of agricultural implements, established George Sweet Manufacturing Company in Comminsville, which would later become Foster Wheeler. Served as railroad director.

Dr. Harriet N. Austin 1826-1891

Dr. Austin came to Dansville along with Dr. James Caleb Jackson when he opened Our Home on the Hillside (later known as the Jackson Sanatorium and then the Castle on the Hill). She was editor of The Laws of Life publication and a leading advocate of women’s dress reform. She promoted “The American Costume” for women which included a looser fitting dress and trousers. Austin Street is named in her honor.

John Blum 1822-1907

A German immigrant who settled in Dansville and in 1859 began making and selling shoes in his store. He eventually started the Blum Shoe Manufacturing Co. in 1885 which was one of the three leading industries in Dansville for almost a century. Among his civic posts was President of Dansville Board of Health.

Jonathan B. Morey, Sr. 1836-1905

Important local businessman. He established J.G. Morey & Sons Nursery, one of Dansville’s largest, in the northeast section of town where Morey Ave. is now named for him. He served as State Assemblyman and Village President.

George A. Sweet. 1844-1912

Founder and owner of George A. Sweet Nurseries. He was the first president of the Union Hose Company, first president of the Red Cross Chapter No. 1 chartered in 1881, and first president of Citizen Bank in 1887 which was formed after two family banks failed. He served as Village President from 1876-1877.

Dr, Kate J. Jackson 1844-1921

She was a physician and later ran the Jackson Health Resort with her husband Dr. James H. Jackson. A civic leader, she was active on the Dansville Hospital Board, Board of Trade, Board of Education, and the Eastern Star.

Marion F. Owen 1909-1993

Daughter-in-law of publisher F.A.Owen, she was editor of the Instructor Magazine from 1951-1974. She was the leading founder of the Dansville Area Historical Society, served as its first president, and helped found the Dansville Historical Museum in 1968.

Robert F. Hart 1924-2012

President of the Dansville & Mount Morris Railroad, he was elected North Dansville Town Supervisor in 1955. He became the longest-serving Town Supervisor in Livingston County History, serving 43 years until 1998. He also holds the New York State record for the longest-serving county board of supervisors chairman. Robert Hart Drive is named in his honor.

Jane Schryver

A lifelong resident of Dansville and a 1954 DHS graduate, Jane has a large private collection of Dansville-related memorabilia. In collaboration with Paul Hoffman, in 2002 she began offering to the public power-point presentation of subjects related to the history of Dansville, as well as other places in Livingston and Steuben Counties. But surely her most significant contribution to the promotion of Dansville history was spearheading the beautification of the parcel of land which, over the years, has been known variously as Union Park, Normal Park, and Instructor Park, and, as of 2012, has been officially re-designated as Pioneer Park. Jane’s goal was not just to improve its appearance but to restore its largely-forgotten legacy as Dansville’s original cemetery.