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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.
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.
Our last program on April 9 about The Flying Allens was a great success. Please join us for our next program, “The Opera Houses and Halls of Livingston County,” will be presented by Jane Oaks, on Wednesday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the North Dansville Town Hall auditorium. As always, the program is free and open to the public. Donations are greatly appreciated.
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny Share Dansville’s Best Easter
Milkmen, Mailmen, Police Chief Give Help In Easter Baskets Delivery Contest
By Rosemary Sahrle
AN ORIGINAL HOLIDAY STORY DEDICATED TO ALL DANSVILLE CHILDREN
THE EASTER BUNNY has always had Easter baskets for the boys and girls of Dansville.
Each Easter morning when they awake, there are baskets of eggs and candy for everyone who has been good. But, did you know about the Easter when some of the people of Dansville actually saw and helped the Easter Bunny deliver the baskets?
* * *
A TINY HELICOPTER flew through the heavy fog over Dansville. Its two passengers peered through the windows trying in vain to see some sight of land.
“But you’ve got to get me into Dansville this afternoon, “said Happy Bunny to the pilot inside the helicopter.
“I’m sorry, Sir, but with this fog, I’m not even sure just where Dansville is,” answered the pilot.
HAPPY BUNNY WAS usually as happy as his.name. In fact, at his Easter-land headquarters, everyone said that he was the happiest of all the Easter Bunny assistants. But today, he frowned and scowled and wasn’t the least bit pleasant.
“If I don’t get to Dansville today, there won’t be a chance of my winning the prizes which our Chief Easter Bunny had promised to give to the Easter Bunny who gets through quickest delivering his Easter Eggs and, Easter Baskets.”
For the 10th time, Happy looked at the big gold watch in the pocket of his checked vest. He was so excited that his voice came out only in squeeks and puffs.
Mrs. Bunny Calms Husband
MERRY BUNNY put down her half knitted sweater and looked at her husband. “Now, there’s no use getting so excited. You know that there’s always a lot of fog in the valley at this time of year. Go back to reading your paper and try not to worry.”
“I’m sorry, Dear, but you know what Harvey, the head of the Easter Bunnies told us. He told us that the assistant who delivers the baskets in his territory first gets all sorts of prizes. I wanted Mr. Hylan to bring us here the day before Easter so we could start delivering our Easter Eggs and Easter Baskets as soon as it got dark. And now look at us! We’re probably flying right over Dansville now and don’t even know it.”
Landing at the Tower
“IF I DON’T find Dansville soon,” said Mr. Hylan “We’ll have to go back. There ‘isn’t enough gas in the tank of our helicopter to fly around here all afternoon.”
Happy looked at his watch once more and shook his head.
Just then Merry shouted. “I just saw some sort of a tower through the fog. We must be over the airport .now!”
Mr. Hylan turned the helicopter back. Sure enough, there was the tower. “Guess this is it,” he said.
Slowly the helicopter descended to the air field at the foot of the tower.
* * *
HAPPY AND MERRY put on their coats and hats and mittens and climbed out of the helicopter, and began unloading the plane.
The pilot carefully handed baskets after basket down to Happy and Merry.
There were round ones, and square ones and oval ones. There were large ones, and small ones, and deep ones and shallow ones. There were large blue baskets for big boys.
There were frilly baskets with lots of ruffles for girls. There were tiny baskets with tiny chocolate rabbits for the little boys and girls.
* * *
SOON HAPPY AND Merry were surrounded by baskets of all sizes and shapes. Finally the last basket had been taken out of the plane.
“Do you want this bundle?” asked Mr. Hylan. “It was way back in the corner.”
“Oh yes!” Happy answered as he took a large mysterious package. I don’t think we’ll need it but we had better take it.”
“I’m sorry to leave right away,” said Mr. Hylan, “But I Want to get back home tonight.”
“We’ll meet you here at the airport tomorrow noon,” called Happy. “Don’t forget to come and get us.
“I’ll be) back,” shouted Mr. Hylan and slammed the cockpit door.
The bunnies watched the helicopter slowly rise back into the fog and out of sight.
Work Begins with Presents
“NOW, YOU STAY here with all the things while I try to find the, hangar and see whether Mr. Wilkins, the manager, is around. Maybe he’ll let us hide in the hangar until night. I wouldn’t want to have any boys and girls find us in town the day before Easter.”
With these words, Happy hurried off through the fog.
* * *
MERRY BEGAN COUNTING and sorting all the baskets.
She reached into her purse for her glasses. Then she hunted among the bundles until she found a long list of names, and finally she pulled out a blue pencil.
“This beige skirt with the ruffles will be for Mary,” she said to herself and checked Mary’s name off the list.
“Mmm, I think Betty would like this green one,” and she checked off her name.
She was so busy’ sorting and checking that she didn’t even notice what was happening around her. The fog was lifting and when Merry finally raised her head to call to Happy, she could see all around.
Stranded on Wrong Spot
HAPPY WAS running toward her with a puzzled look on his face.
Merry was puzzled, too.
This was no airport where they were. Instead it was only a field and in the middle of it, a tall steel tower.
* * *
“WHERE DO YOU suppose we are,” asked Merry. “I was never here before.”
Happy was looking up at the tower. “That must be the new television tower I’ve heard so much about. Why, we aren’t even in town. That’s Dansville down there! We’re on East Hill.”
He pointed to the buildings down in the valley. “This is a fine kettle of fish! How are we going to get all our Easter baskets for the children down into town, from here?”
He opened his top coat and took his watch out of his vest pocket. “Six o’clock, already!” he gruntled and then kept storming up and down the field trying to think what to do next.
“Calm down,” soothed His wife, Merry. “What did you bring your Collapsible Egg for?” She nodded toward the mysterious package. “We can open it up, put the baskets in it, and roll down the hill.”
Prepare for Trip with EGGS
WTIHOUT SAVING a word Happy started opening up the Egg.
This collapsible Eggs was a very wonderful thing. The chief Easter Bunny had invented himself and had ordered every assistant to take one with him on Easter eve.
Because these collapsible eggs could roll both up and down hill, many bunny assistants used them every year. The Egg was made of plastic and folded up like an accordion. When it was all opened, there was plenty of room in it for both Easter bunnies and baskets.
It had become dark in the meantime and by moonlight Happy and Merry loaded the Egg, As Happy packed each basket, Merry put a name tag on it so they would be sure to leave the right basket at each doorstep.
TIME MOVED BY quickly as they worked and it was long past midnight when at last the egg had been packed and they were ready to leave. They pushed the egg to the very edge of East Hill, hopped into the egg, and shut the door. The Egg began to roll, slowly at first, then faster and faster and faster.
Happy could hear the Egg whizzing by trees as they rolled down the hill. Merry’s hat blew off and landed on one of the baskets. The bunnies got dizzier and dizzier and still the egg rolled.
* * *
SUDDENLY THE egg stopped with such a jolt that both bunnies lost their balance. Happy picked himself up, opened the door, and looked out.
One end of the egg had hit the front of the Dansville Police Car and Happy was looking straight into the face of Police Chief James Bradley.
Police Chief Meets “Happy”
“WHO ARE YOU—and what’s this?” asked the Chief when he saw Happy Bunny with his collapsible egg. The Chief looked serious and also surprised.
“I’m Happy Bunny,” Happy introduced himself taking a slight bow why speaking. “I’ve come to Dansville in this collapsible egg with Easter baskets for all the girls and boys who live here.”
The Chief didn’t believe his own eyes at first. Then he remembered that this was the night before Easter. “Oh well,” he said to Happy. “Welcome to Dansville! You sure fooled me for a minute. I thought maybe that collapsible egg was a flying saucer. Besides, 1 was just getting ready to arrest you for wreckless driving.”
* * *
BY THIS TIME Merry had combed her hair and put her new navy blue hat with the roses back on her head. She climbed out of the egg to see what had happened. When she saw crumpled egg, she groaned.
They could never get their baskets all delivered in time to win those prizes now, she figured. Then she saw Chief Bradley! “Maybe he knows someone who could help us,” she thought.
* * *
HAPPY WAS explaining to Chief Bradley about the contest among the bunny assistants. “And if we win there will be prizes for us, and for those who help us and even a prize for the Village, Happy explained to the Chief.
Once more Happy looked at his great gold watch. ”But it’s too late now. We might as well forget the contest and just try to get these baskets delivered before the girls and boys wake up,” he said sadly.
* * *
CHIEF BRADLEY wrinkled his brows. Then a slow smile spread over his face. “I’ll bet I know some people who would help you deliver those baskets,” he said to the bunnies. “The milkmen will be starting on their routes pretty soon and they might take some baskets along. Pile everything in the car and we’ll go and find out.”
The three carefully loaded each basket in the trunk of the police car. Then, Chief Bradley drove them around the corner, down the street and around another corner to Campbell’s Dairy. Jack Petrie, Bob Wright and Charles Shattuck were loading cases of milk in the delivery truck. With one leap, Happy jumped up on the hood. Jack blinked and Bob rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn’t dreaming.
“I’m sorry to scare yon,” said Happy, “but we need some help!”
Stop and Help Bunnies
JACK AND BOB and Charles stopped work to listen as Happy told them about the Bunny contest.
“We can take some of the baskets, I guess,” said Jack. “If one of you will go along and show us where to take them.”
‘I’ll see you in front of the Dansville. Hotel when we’re finished,” called Merry to Happy as she hopped into the truck and Jack drove off with her.
* * *
HAPPY AND CHIEF Bradley got back in the police car and drove up the street, around the corner, up street, and around another corner where George Hartz and Truman Wallace were just driving a delivery track away from Vogt’s Dairy. One short blast on the police siren sounded and the truck stopped with a jerk.
Happy jumped into the truck and, in almost one breath, told about the contest again.
“I think there’s room in the back of the truck,” said George.
IT TOOK ONLY a few minutes to move the rest of the baskets from the police car to the milk truck. Waving good-bye to Chief Bradley, Happy hopped in the truck and away they drove.
Delivery Job is All Finished
IT WAS JUST 4:30 in the morning when Merry got out of the milk truck in front of the Dansville Hotel. Five minutes later, Happy joined her, and together they darted into a taxi.
“Can you takeout to the Lackawanna station right away?” Happy shouted as the two jumped into the taxi.
Away they sped up the hill where Mr. Hickey was just opening the station.
“Will you send a telegram for me?” Happy asked politely.
* * *
- HICKEY WAS a little startled to see a bunny wearing a checked vest and one wearing a hat with pink flowers on it, but he finally managed to stammer, “Why-y-y-sure!
I’ll send a telegram for you.”
Happy and Merry Bunny wrote the message to be sent to the Chief Bunny.
Mr. Harvey Bunny
Chief of all Easter Bunnies
105 Easter Egg Lane
Easterland, U. S. A.
“We finished delivering all our baskets in Dansville at exactly 4:35 a. m.
Signed Happy and Merry Bunny”
Just as the last word was tapped out on the telegraph keys, the train for New York came around the bend.
Happy and Merry dashed out of the station to see if anyone was getting off the train. They wished a Happy Easter to a grandmother and a grandfather and to a sailor just coming home on leave, and to a father returning from a business trip.
Help with the Mailbags
HAPPY helped Dwight Daniels load the mailbags from the train into his truck, there was so much mail that morning that by the time it was all loaded on the truck, a telegram had arrived for Happy Bunny. This is what it read:
Mr. Happy Bunny
Dansville, N. Y.
“Congratulations! You have won. Dansville has come in first. Go to the Dansville Hotel for your prizes.”
Signed – Harvey
Chief of the Bunnies.
Happy and Merry danced around Mr. Hickey until they were both out of breath.
“Let’s go to the hotel and see what our prizes are,” gasped Merry.
You can ride down with me if you want to,” said Mr. Daniels.
Look for Prizes at Hotel
NOT EVEN THE bumpy ride down the hill could dampen their spirits. “What do you suppose we’ll get,” Happy and Merry kept asking each other.
Piled in the Hotel lobby were all sons of packages. The night clerk said that they were all addressed to Happy and Merry Bunny. He gave them each a pair of scissors to cut the cords and told them to put the wrappings in the wastepaper basket.
* * *
THE BUNNIES BEGAN to unwrap the packages. Such wonderful prizes:
There were a new suit for Happy and a pew top hat and a white bow tie and a new cane. For Merry there were a pin-striped new blouse and a long white pair of gloves and a round black hat with flowers and ribbons on top. And for both of them there was the Easter issue of the Genesee Country Express along with a full year’s subscription to be sent directly to their home in Easterland so that during the whole next year they would be able to keep informed on the news in Dansville.
But there were other gifts too. A card table and folding chairs and a piano and a washing machine. Each package and box held a different surprise.
* * *
BUT THERE WERE gifts too for all those who had helped Happy and Merry Bunny:
There was a jar of brass polish for Chief Bradley’s shiny coat buttons. For the milkman there was a new visor for his cap and for the postman a new black bow tie. For Mr. Hickey at the rail road station there was a mechanical pencil which he could use to write his baggage checks.
Special Gift for All
BUT ONE BOX was so large and heavy that Happy and Merry had to borrow a hammer and a crowbar to open it. They wondered what it could be in it.
They tilted the lid of the box as far back las it would go. Then they leaned over the top and looked inside. They saw a big card on which were written the words: “This gift m for all the people of Dansville.”
Happy and Merry were really curious now to find out what the gift was and Happy climbed to the top of the box and quickly tore off some of the packing paper.
He saw a big mahogany cabinet.
Then, as he probed die box more carefully he could see that in this box there was Television. Television with guaranteed good and clear reception as the Easter Prize for all the good people of Dansville.
* * *
“TEE HEE HEE,” laughed Happy and anyone could have seen that he could no longer (hold himself upright for joy.
He buckled as he laughed. And his thin, long tongue kept waving out from between his teeth and he could not have closed his mouth if he had wanted to—he was really that happy.
“What more could anyone wish for,” snickered Merry who was just as excited and whose eyes twinkled in all directions as if she was trying to see the many beautiful gifts all at once.
Happy tried to pull himself together before he jumped back down from the box. But as he looked up he seemed startled.
* * *
“LOOK,” HE shouted to Merry. “It’s almost daylight out. It’s Easter Sunday. We better hide quick.”
“Oh, oh,*’ sighed Merry. But when she tried to look through the window to see the daylight, she couldn’t see anything. Her eyes were filled with tears—tears of excitement and joy.
“Gee whiz,” said Happy. “Come with me.” But when he jumped from the box and tried to move away, he couldn’t see his way anymore either. He too was crying from sheer delight of what had happened this bright Easter morning. He put his arms around
Merry and Merry put her arms around him.
SUCH WONDERFUL PRIZES: There were a new suit for Mr. Bunny and a new top hat and a white bow tie and a cane. For
Mrs. Bunny there were a pin-striped blouse and a long white pair of gloves… and for both of them there was the Easter issue of the Genesee Country Express…”
Easter Comes to Dansville
IT WAS FAR TOO late in the morning for any Easter Bunnies still to be around. They should have hidden long ago. But their tears kept coming and they could not stop crying for happiness.
* * *
Outside the dawn was lifting and after the early morning twilight the sun came out and the sky looked a very light blue. It was going to be a real beautiful Spring Easter Day.
Dansville looked bright and clean and the sun beams were reflected from the street pavements and the roofs and the windows.
* * *
CHURCH BELLS STARTED to ring and people were getting up and were getting dressed in their new Easter outfits and some early risers were already coming out on the streets to greet this happy, beautiful Easter Day. Children too were awakening and coming out of their beds to look for the Easter baskets and other presents which Happy and Merry had brought for them.
* * *
STILL, CROUCHED together in a corner of a corridor in Hotel Dansville were Happy and Merry, too happy and too tired to move and trying hard to wipe the tears out of each other’s eyes.
“If this isn’t the nicest Easter ever since time began,” said Happy.
“I know it is,” whispered Merry in his ear. “If only I could keep my eyes dry and see the day.”
Published in the:
GENESEE COUNTRY EXPRESS AND ADVERTISER
Dansville. Livingston County, N Y.
March 22, 1951
65 years later Chad L. Schuster from the Dansville Area Historical Society digitized this on Easter eve March 26, 2016.