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Source: James C. Jackson (1811 – 1895)
In conjunction with the Dansville High School History Club, the Dansville Area Historical Society has the privilege once again to have some of its items on display in the Dansville High School, just outside the auditorium. If you happen to be in the school and have a chance, please stop to take a look. The theme is “Museum of Play” and includes such pieces as old phonograph records, a drum, children’s games, stuffed animals, sports items, old Danuas and more.
Photos by Don Ptak, Dansville High School History Club advisor; school librarian
Mathew Brady’s ionic 1865 photo of Clara Barton
December 11, 1866 — Clara Barton’s First Visit to Dansville
Although Clara Barton called Dansville her residence from 1876 to 1886, her first visit here was ten years earlier – on December 11, 1866 — when she spent one evening lecturing at Canaseraga Hall opera house. This building still stands as the left-hand end of the Dyer Block on Main Street. The opera house was on the third floor of today’s 152 Main Street.
This lecture was part of her tour throughout the northeast U.S. from 1866-1868 to raise money for her efforts to identify dead and missing soldiers, especially those who perished at Andersonville prison.
Will Conklin’s book Clara Barton and Dansville includes an announcement of the upcoming lecture made in A.O. Bunnell’s Advertiser, and in the next issue (December 13, 1866), Bunnell reports: “Clara Barton’s Lecture delivered at Canaseraga Hall on Tuesday evening last on ‘Work and Incidents of Army Life,” was a very rare treat. She gave us the story of only about three weeks of her four years of army experience; but her narrative was as replete with interest as her life must have been full of the hardest toil.”
Barton’s diary for that time period shows how incredibly taxing her travels were. Tuesday morning of December 11, she traveled from Rochester to Avon, and from there left at 12:30 p.m. for Wayland via the Erie Railroad. She arrived in Wayland at 4 p.m. and took the stage to Dansville at 6 p.m. “Tire came off wheel a mile out of Dansville. Walked in, put up at Am. House…Went to lecture at 7 ½. Hall seats 400, about full, pleasant audience. Met Miss Dr. Austin, a pleasing lady in bloomers, and other ladies from Water Cure. Received 50 dollars. Came home and retired at 11.”
It was a snowy evening. How hard walking a mile in that weather must have been. Also, here’s a curiosity. Records show that Barton usually charged 50 cents per head for her lecture. She received 50 dollars in Dansville at a hall that “seats 400” and was “about full” as her diary recounts. The math does not add up. If she did indeed charge 50 cents each, then only 100 paid to attend. Also, Conklin quotes the Advertiser’s December 13th edition: “That the audience should have been small enough to allow Charley Niles to lose $20 out of his own pocket, is a burning shame to the citizens of Dansville.” From this, we might suspect that indeed the audience was much smaller than capacity. Maybe even as few as 60 people?? Could that be?
We do know that by December 1868, Clara Barton lost her voice from fatigue and mental prostration while delivering a speech. In 1869, she closed The Office of Correspondence with Friends of the Missing Men of the United States Army, having received and answered 63,182 letters and identified 22,000 missing men. By September 1869, on the advice of her doctor, Clara Barton traveled to Europe to regain her health. There she would meet Dr. Louis Appia in Switzerland, read about the International Red Cross, and continue to overwork herself until she returned again to Dansville in 1876 to convalesce at “Our Home on the Hillside” and to found the first chapter of the American Red Cross in August 1881.
Clara Barton’s lecture notes from the Library of Congress archives, filed as “Clara Barton War Lecture, ca. 1866, describing her decision to challenge stereotypes and go on to the battlefield.” These notes might have been part of the lecture she delivered in Dansville.
Please come and be a part of our annual pasta dinner and program at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 5 in the Dansville American Legion Post hall, 34 Elizabeth St., Dansville.
Program to be given by Rosemary Alexander on her time at The Instructor magazine. Tickets are $10 apiece and are available at the door or through a DAHS board member. All are welcome to attend.
September, 30 1878
The Genesee Valley Canal opened in 1840 and was officially closed on September 30, 1878
Starting in Rochester, NY, the Genesee Valley Canal extended along the valley of the Genesee from the N. bounds of Livingston Co. to Mt.Morris; thence it turns S.E. to Coshaqua Creek and up the valley of that stream of Nunda, and thence S.W. to the Genesee at Portage, where it cross the river upon a wood aqueduct supported by stone piers. The Dansville Branch Canal extends from Mt.Morris S.E. to Dansville, NY.
September 24, 1919
Kings Daughters Home in Dansville, NY was an assisted living facility for older independent adults for more than 90 years. Over the years many of school children from Dansville Central School would sing Christmas carols from the staircase while the residents would surround them on the first floor near the tree. Friends and family would also go trick-or-treating during Halloween. However in the spring 2011 the King’s Daughters Home would be forced to close due to lack of money to operate sufficiently and was auctioned off on September 19th 2012. A separate auction for contents will be held on October 8, 2012.
26 Health Street
Dansville, New York 14437
Originally built as Dansville Seminary to provide a higher education for older children, this 3 story brick building was finished in 1860 at a cost of $12,000. In 1890, the new Owner Dr. George L. Ahlers along with Dr. Frederick R. Driesbach converted it into the Dansville Medical & Surgical Hospital, which would be the first hospital in town.
August 12, 1877 a mile-wide hailstorm wreaked havoc on local farmland; trees and cornstalks were stripped of their leaves, and some farms reported hail four inches deep on the ground, with stones as large as hen’s eggs. A tornado, twelve days later, must have almost seemed routine by then.