(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.
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.