On this date: Dansville area devastated by hail storm (1877)


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.

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Image shown for reference only. Obviously not taken in 1877.

On this date: Ground broke for Dansville’s 1st Railroad


July 20, 1869

Ground broke in Dansville for Erie & Genesee Valley Railroad Company line.  Later named the Dansville & Mt. Morris Railroad.

The Erie & Genesee Valley Railroad was incorporated in January 1868. It was completed in 1872 and leased to the Erie until October 21, 1891, when it was returned to local management as the Dansville & Mt. Morris Railroad. The company operated in receivership from 1894 until September 30, 1927. Passenger service ended in 1939. The company was acquired by Genesee & Wyoming Industries on July 23, 1985.

additional info: http://gold.mylargescale.com/Scottychaos/GW/DMMpage.html

On this date: First Lutheran Church formed


July 4, 1824

The first constitution was adopted July 4, 1824 when the congregation assumed the name (as translated into English) “The United Reformed and Lutheran Church of Dansville”. Although the Reformed and Lutheran groups worshiped and worked together, each elected its own council and kept separate records. The first Lutherans Church, St. Jacob’s, was built in 1826.  Prior to building that church the Dansville congregations (German and English) met in a log school-house.  The Church was centered on an early indian burial ground.  And it’s said that the stones of an indian burial mound were used in the foundation of St. Jacob’s Church.

http://spdans.org/history/about.htm#1825.__First_church_building.

On this date: The debut of “Dansville Turns 200” appears in Genesee Country Express


March 19, 1992

“Dansville Turns 200” was a weekly newspaper column that ran in the Genesee Country Express from March 19, 1992 to January 28, 1996. In 201 installments, each representing one calendar year, the history of Dansville, New York was told, from its earliest white settlement to the celebration of the village bicentennial. Included in each article was a summary of the major events of the world, the nation, and the region for the year being covered, to try to give some perspective to what kind of world surrounded Dansville at the time. This project was the end result of many hundreds of hours of research, spread out over several years; and I received plenty of help. Among those to whom I owe thanks: Richard Eades, the high school teacher whose local history course set me on this path; the late historian Wilfred J. Rauber, who was of tremendous help to me during my initial researches in the mid-1980’s; Teresa Canuti and the other employees at the Dansville Public Library, for their helpfulness in my endeavors there; and for the editors of the Genesee Country Express, for allowing me access to their back issues, and, of course, for publishing my column. And many thanks to all who provided encouragement and compliments on what was, from beginning to end, a labor of love.

David Gilbert

On this date: Dansville Seminary was incorporated by the New York State Regents


On January 14, 1858, the Dansville Seminary was incorporated by the New York State Regents, under the sponsorship of the East Genesee Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Classes began in September in a rented building, and later moved to the second story of the District No. 2 school building on Ossian and Spruce, while plans were made to construct a permanent edifice on the hillside. Over 200 pupils enrolled the first year; and for nearly 30 years, though troubled by periods of financial instability, the Seminary would be an important educational institution for the Dansville area.

1858 Dansville Seminary from old map

On September 24, Ex-President Millard Fillmore paid his first visit to Dansville since his 1814 apprenticeship to Benjamin Hungerford. With his old friend William Scott, he visited the site in West Sparta where he had spent those several memorable months; the old carding mill was long gone, and the spot was overgrown with bushes. He also gave a speech for the students at the Seminary. A few months previously, the village had dedicated the newly-completed, three-story brick building on East Hill, behind the street which would, for a number of years, be called Seminary Street (now Health Street; the building itself later housed the King’s Daughters Home).

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great poet and essayist, visited Dansville in January 1865, to give a speech before the Gentlemen’s Lyceum of the Dansville Seminary.

Dansville Seminary College Currency $50

Dansville, in 1877, was a village with an educational system that was showing its age. Although there were 1344 school-age children in the area, the average attendance in the town’s six school districts totaled a measly 269. Talk of unifying the districts had begun, but nothing would come of it right away. In addition, the Dansville Seminary was in a perpetual state of near financial collapse. One of the Seminary’s newest teachers, Dr. Julian B. Hubbell, had come to Dansville in 1876 to help his brother-in-law, Samuel H. Goodyear, run the Seminary. In time, his destiny would be linked with that of another village newcomer…Clara Barton.

Not quite dead in 1880, but close to it, was the Dansville Seminary. The once-distinguished school was on its last legs, owing largely to a depletion of state funds and the withdrawal of patronage by the Methodist Episcopal Conference. In April a village meeting was held to attempt to save it from financial ruin. Clara Barton was among those who spoke on behalf of the Seminary, which was spared, at least temporarily, from dissolution.

By 1883 the old Seminary was now defunct; but the Seminary building became home to the new Union Free School. Late in 1882, the two village school districts had been combined, and the old brick District No. 2 school building on Ossian and Spruce was abandoned. Plans for a brand-new school-house were being considered.

Involved with the creation of the Dansville Seminary: Clara Barton, Asa Othello Bunnell, Charles Shepard (husband of Nathanial Rochester granddaughter, Katherine Rochester Coleman),…

On this date: Prohibition repealed,…


December 5, 1933

Dansville “wet” for first time since 1917.  As defined on Wikipedia.org, Prohibition is the legal act of prohibiting the manufacture, storage, transportation and sale of alcohol including alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the prohibition of alcohol was enforced.

prohibition-1925 1917 marked ultimate victory for Dansville’s temperance advocates; in March elections, the sale of alcoholic beverages in the village was banned, 667-546, effective November 1. (A similar measure was passed in South Dansville.) Church bells rang the news of the victory over Demon Rum, which spelled bad news not only for those local concerns that sold liquor, but also for the local grape-growing industry, which was doomed to extinction. For the liquor-sellers in Wayland, however, this meant a business boom…at least until nationwide Prohibition kicked into effect in 1920.

gal-prohibition17-web-jpg

As if to make up for the impending loss of beer and whiskey, brothers Steve and Chris Dromazos opened the Sugar Bowl on June 29, where ice cream sodas and milkshakes could be purchased.

Before 1920, 50% of Americans lived under Prohibition laws passed by various states; now everybody did, as the 18th Amendment went into effect the year before.

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Further disillusionment came for those who had thought that Prohibition meant the end of alcoholic beverages in the U.S. If anything, alcoholism had gone up in recent years; and the rise in gangsterism, which thrived mainly on bootlegging, made the headlines with the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” between the rival gangs of “Bugs” Moran and Al Capone.

alcapone  WEAPONS-BURKE-HOUSE

In 1933, after nearly 14 (about 17 in Dansville) disillusioning years, Prohibition in the U.S. came to end.  Given how popular Prohibition was in Dansville back in 1917, the 785-326 local vote in favor of its repeal clearly showed how great the disillusionment was. New York State was, as a whole, heavily in favor of abandoning the “Great Experiment”; in some New York City area districts, the vote was unanimous. When, in December, Utah’s vote made the repeal official, Leo Curran lost no time in obtaining a license to open a liquor store on Main Street; and in Hammondsport, thousand of gallons of wine were on hand, which could now be used for something other than religious sacraments

Alchohol Prescription 1933

On this date: Hurricane Agnes hits Dansville Area


June 20, 1972

When, in June 1972, the remnants of Hurricane Agnes paid a surprise visit to Upstate New York, the results were comparable to the great flood of 1935. Although the Kanakadea Dam protected the city of Hornell, other Southern Tier cities and villages–Corning, Elmira, Wellsville, Canisteo, Alfred, Almond–were subjected to major flooding from rivers choked by the 10 inches of rain that fell in three days. At least one drowning victim was reported in Corning. One can only speculate how the absence of the 20-year-old Mt. Morris Dam would have compounded Livingston County damage. As it was, nervous Army Engineers felt compelled to release some of the pent-up waters, flooding croplands in low-lying areas.
In Dansville, the flooding of Mill Creek forced the evacuation of Quay Street and the Tracy trailer court (where three trailers were swept away). A bridge at Stone’s Falls was washed out, taking a house and trailer with it. At Comminsville the overflow of Canaseraga Creek caused $750,000 in damage at Foster Wheeler, as it ran across Route 36, sent a foot of water across the parking lots, flooded the basement, and deposited 6 inches of silt in the Tube Shop. Cleaning out the shop required the borrowing of several high- pressure hoses from the fire department, and the efforts of some 300 local volunteers. Not so easily fixed was the damage done to crops and nursery stock in the Flats area, damage estimated in the millions.

These first two paragraphs come from a newspaper column series titled ” Dansville Turns 200″ that ran from 1992 till 1996 in the Genesee Country Express by David Gilbert.  David is  the curator of the Dansville Area Historical Society museum.

header GCE June 29 1972

image 1 GCE June 29 1972

Foster Wheeler employees returned to their jobs this week.  Their tools these days are high rubber boots, shovels, brooms and mops.

The parking lot was flooded again Monday morning — with cars instead of water.

The massive job of cleaning up tons of sludge and debris is expected to continue throughout the week. Help there Saturday and Sunday was on voluntary basis by employees. Now full wages are being paid by the firm.

A. J. Timmes, local works manager, said full assessment of damage and loss cannot be made until about a couple of weeks. Investigation into extent of electrical damage was started Monday. One of the most costly projects is inspection of materials covered with mud.  “Every piece of tubing will have to be flushed and treated,” he said.

image 2 GCE June 29 1972

Timmes estimated damage at the cafeteria alone at between $50,000 and 160,000 and stated the entire area will have to be completely redone. He called last week’s flood “the worst in the history of the Dansville plant.”

 

On this date: American Legion buys old Baptist Church


April 4, 1938

AmericanLegion_logo

Daniel Goho Post 87 of the American Legion in Dansville, New York was established on June 16, 1919 during its organizational meeting.  The constitution was written and an application for a charter was signed by 39 men.  This was the first post in Livingston County, NY.  At that time they had no place to call home as meetings and other events were held in various building around the village.  Sponsored events included high school concerts, Boys State program, Scholarships, American Legion Baseball and Boy Scouts.Baptist Church 1910

In 1938 they found a home of their own when they purchased the abandoned Baptist Church at 34 Elizabeth Street for $500 owed in village taxes.  After renovations done mostly by Legionnaires the new quarters was dedicated on July 18, 1938.

American Legion Elizabeth Street 1

On this date: Dansaire Corp. builds first (and last) airplane


Jan. 26, 1947

Dansaire Corporation, which had settled in Dansville, hoped to make Dansville the home of the first real “family-type” plane.  It was called the Dansaire Coupe.

Assembly of the airplane was completed Jan. 10, and on that day the engine was run for the first time. Since that time numerous taxi runs and several minor adjustments and alterations have been made.

Dansaire Coupe at Airport 1947

Dansaire Corporation believed their new plane—the Dansaire Coupe—had corrected many of the things inherently wrong with the small personal plane.  The loudest objections to small planes have been the cramped, small cabins and the difficulty getting in and tout of these cabins. This difficulty is experienced mostly by women and admitted by some men.  Most small personal planes preclude a man from taking his wife and child on trips because of lack of seating space. And tiny baggage compartments limit the amount of luggage permissible for week-end trips.

Dansaire Corporation was to put on the market a personal plane which had corrected all these inconveniences and therefore must appeal to the whole family.  It would offer (1) a large roomy seat up-front, wide enough for three grown people; (2) a door, larger than most car doors (45 Inches high and 50 inches wide), to permit getting into and out of the cabin with ease, and (3) a baggage compartment large enough to meet the needs of a family or the needs of a golfing threesome, golfbags and all!

As reported in the Dansville Breeze on Jan 23, 1947 Mr. White, president said plans are being made at the present time to exhibit the Dansaire Coupe at the New York Aviation Show to be held in New York City the first week in February.  Publicity released in connection with this show will spread the name of Dansaire and Dansville from coast to coast, Mr White added.

Dansaire NY Aviation Show 2-47

Following CAA licensing of the plane for experimental flights, the red and creme plane made several trial flights.  A Bell Aircraft Corporation test pilot was at the controls.  The plane was disassembled  and shipped to the National Air Show in New York City and was then trucked to New York City by W. B. Griswold.

George White, also announced that the public was being invited to a showing and demonstration of the new Dansaire Coupe, at Dansville Municipal Airport Sunday, March 23, 1947.