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An old wooden scrapbook sheds light on local history

An old wooden time capsule to days gone by. PHOTO BY JASMINE WILLIS

By Jasmine Willis

DANSVILLE — There is a fascination with scrapbooking that has been passed down from generation to generation and encompasses hundreds of lifetimes.

The Dansville Area Historical Society has a rare gem of this caliber in the gift shop room next to the photos of young boys and girls dreaming about glory as they pose for game photos. These photos alone intrigue me since they span decades of time. You have the pure confidence of the young lads as they play baseball, football, soccer, or football. You have the pure innocence of the lassies as they wear silk dresses and big poufy hats. One wonders what thoughts ran through their eager heads as these images; now literally locked away in a museum were captured.

A glance to a wooden scrapbook with big black letters caught my attention away from the mysteries of 100 years of local sports, and more towards the disbelief that anyone actually made wooden scapbooks with paper and twine.

This beauty was called “Dansville 1795-1946” Jane Marie Rowe Scapbooking 1795 to 1946 was written on the first page in pencil. A short dedication was given to Mrs. Aliene Fox and Mr. William Thompson.

A nice look at life in the 1930s on Main Street. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANSVILLE AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Naturally I come from a family of writers, pioneers, genealogists, researchers, artists, and historians so I had to dig deep into the depths of this woman’s soul.

Rowe blessed her readers with a chronological list of events from the start of the story to the end.

The Chronological Chart of Chief Events in the History of Dansville; according to Rowe.

1759- Mary Jemison made the first settlement in the Genesee Country.

1779- Gen. Sullivan’s Expedition

1780- Col. Nathaniel Rochester visits Dansville

1791- Sir William Pulteney bout the Pulteney Estate for 75,000 pounds.

1795- Mr and Mrs. Cornelius McCoy came to settle in Dansville.

1796- Amariah Hammond built the second log home in Dansville.

1796- Daniel Faulkner laid out the village plans of Dansville, and therefore it was named after him.

1798- School House One started.

1799- William Perine settled at the head of Perine Street in Dansville.

1821- Livingston County was formed.

1821- First school house for elementary grades

1825- Dansville First Presbyterian Church was organized.

1831- Dansville St. Peter’s Episcopal Church was organized.

1835- St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Dansville was organized.

1836- The Old Academy was built.

1836-The Dansville Fire Department was organized.

1843-1853 The Dansville Canal Period that was when the town most prospered.

1845- St. Mary’s Catholic Church organized.

1846- Town of North Dansville was formed out of parts of Sparta.

1850- St. Patrick’s Church was organized.

1850- Dansville Express started publishing. Now it is known as the Genesee Country Express.

1851- The nursery business was starting to form in Dansville

1852- The Jackson Sanitarium “The Water Cure” Now known as the Physical Culture Hotel.

1874- The Dansville Grange was founded.

1874- The Hyland Hotel opened. Now it’s known as Dansville Hotel.

1874- Dansville Public Library organized.

1875- First book store in town owned by H. W. De Lang.

1877- The United Methodist Church on Chestnut Ave was dedicated.

1881- Clara Barton Chapter of the American Red Cross was formed.

1883- Dansville Breeze was established.

1884- Bastian’s Drug Store was opened

1885- Blum’s Shoe Co was started.

1889- The Instructor Publishing was started. Now called F.A.Owen Publishing.

1900- The Brae Burn Links established.

1900- George W. Peck started his famous hardware store.

1900- Dansville Merchants and Farmers National Bank was formed.

1938- We got an American Legion Building.

1942- We got the Dansville Airport completed.

1945- Dansville St. Mary’s Church turns 100.

You can tell from taking a glance through the pages of this scrapbook that old Ms. Rowe really loved her hometown. She didn’t just put any such thing in her precious wooden scrapbook. There were little to no news clippings. Maybe a handful of photos graced the lined pages. However, the real treasure is found in the words she left behind. She wrote about her home, her village, and the things that mattered to her.

The Physical Culture Hotel in its glory days of 1940. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANSVILLE AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Rowe dedicates most of the scrapbook to her cursive handwriting all done in fine pencil to talk about the village history, Dansville Presbyterian Church, St. Mary’s Church, Methodist Episcopal Church, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Dansville Baptist Church, German Evangelical Lutheran Church, Clara Barton, Dansville Schools, Physical Culture Hotel, and of course, Stony Brook State Park.

The amount of hard work, passion, and love put into this little treasure has a place in all the hearts of those who love Dansville.

Dansville recalls Col. Nathaniel Rochester's time in their neck of the woods. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANSVILLE AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

The Dansville Area Historical Society is open first and third Saturday of the month. It is located at 14 Church Street. Stop in and take a read through history.

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