Thursday, October 29, will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the famous musician, composer and Mount Vernon native, Daniel Decatur Emmett. Born here in 1815 when the town of Mount Vernon was just ten years old, Emmett attended school, grew up and worked here during his early years, and then spent time in the army before traveling the country for many years as an entertainer and musician, and as a creator of the minstrel show. After the Civil War, he often provided musical material for well-known performers of the day, leading orchestras at major opera houses in Chicago and Toledo.
In 1888, Emmett retired to Mount Vernon, where he spent the last 16 years of his life in the simple cottage that he built for himself on Mansfield Road, not far from our present Dan Emmett School, named in his honor. During these years he seldom left the area except for his extended eight-month tour with the Al G. Field Minstrel Show in 1895-96, where he was honored in dozens of cities throughout the United States and Canada for his many contributions to American music. Dan Emmett died in 1904 and is buried here at the Mound View Cemetery.
The Knox County Historical Society will celebrate Dan Emmett's 200th birthday from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 29, at the South Main St. site near the viaduct, where the replica of Emmett's 1888 retirement cottage is presently under construction. The public is invited to attend the noontime celebration.
A brief program will be presented, including Emmett songs, performed by students from Dan Emmett School and others, a birthday recognition ribbon-cutting by Chamber of Commerce personnel, and, of course, cake for those in attendance. An official opening will be scheduled next spring after the house is completely finished and with appropriate exhibits inside, just prior to scheduled annual visits from area third grade students.
For more information, call the Museum at 740-393-5247.