A local newspaper journalist, Tina Yee from the Democrat and Chronicle, uncovered a gem amidst the crazy blizzard in Rochester Wednesday. Through the wind whipped snowflakes, a red square sign reveals a historic little-known truth. It is hard for those of us who work or volunteer for this great organization to believe, but many don't know that the founder of the American Red Cross opened the first Chapter in Dansville-yes that Dansville, down the 390 in Livingston County-and the second in the City of Rochester.
Clara Barton. This woman was the real deal. She created something so recognizable today that it is hard to believe people who live in our area don't have any clue that she chose here to begin her legacy. Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in May of 1881 in a small building in Dansville, 45 miles outside of the city of Rochester. Six weeks later, she founded the Rochester Chapter, which used to be on East Avenue and now resides on Prince Street.
Both Chapters are full of amazing history - some of the things I have seen over the past few months literally took my breath away. From old Red Cross uniforms, to old nurses aprons (with supplies still in the pockets), to old photographers and even original letters Clara Barton wrote - this area holds something so valuable and undiscovered by too many. When I was a journalist, the term "local angle" was used a lot to pertain to national or world events. Guess what? There is no local angle on this piece of history. This area IS where that history lies.
Granted, I love history. History gives us an appreciation for what others way before us did to ensure we have the life we have now. Maybe I am just overly excited to work for someplace whose origins lie where I work every day. Either way, I think everyone should know and understand what a gift it is to live in this region. There are many reasons why this region is so special. It is fitting that Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and Clara Barton all made their mark here first, and that all three were friends. They did something extraordinary that should always be remembered, recognized and appreciated. Of all the places these three amazing people could be associated with, it is where we live that they were and always will be a part of.
On a side note, this year, the Rochester Chapter will honor our founder in a special way by dedicating one day of fishing to women on May 5th. The Casting for Caring Tournament is not the first for the men, in fact it has been a tradition at the Yacht Club for years. This year, the women will get a turn in the spotlight, just as we believe Clara would have wanted. For more information on how you can be a part of this historic event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on the history of the American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/about-us/history.