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Paying Tribute to Dan Emmett at 200

Written by James K Gibson

The folks at our Museum had been looking forward to October 29, 2015, for a long time. It's not just every day that any historical society has the opportunity to celebrate the 200th birthday anniversary of its best-known native citizen.
And even though we experienced a tragic fire and other distractions along the way, we had a wonderful celebration for Uncle Dan on a very windy afternoon, when our Historical Society members and friends were joined by Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and Director, Carol Grubaugh, along with Mike Peetee and his singing group Elixir, and especially the more than 50 third graders from Dan Emmett School and their teachers, Janet Jones and Kyle Clinedinst, who added just the right touch to a remarkable 200th birthday celebration.

Read more: Paying Tribute to Dan Emmett at 200

Historical Society to Celebrate Dan Emmett’s 200th Birthday

Written by James K. Gibson

Emmett-Retirement-HomeThursday, 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.


100-year old Reeves engine comes to Historical Society

Written by James K. Gibson, Director

Reeves-Arrives-1     A four-cylinder, 140 horsepower gas engine manufactured by Mount Vernon's Reeves Engineering Co. in 1915 has come back home to be part of the Knox County Historical Society's industrial collection. The 22,000 lb. unit was shipped on October 18, 1915, to Toronto, Ohio, where it would be used to drive the electrical generator for the H. E. Stratton Tile Co.

    The Reeves Co. began operations here about 1905 in their facility on Mount Vernon Avenue. In 1914 they joined with the Hope Forge & Machine Co. here, whose operations were later acquired by Cooper-Bessemer.

Reeves-Arrives-4     The engine has more recently been part of a private industrial engine collection in Wayne County, Ohio, and has frequently been displayed and operated at area engine shows. When it recently was offered for sale, several local collectors donated the funds to bring it back home to Mount Vernon.
  Considerable assistance with delivery and transportation was provided by Ed Buckland Excavating, while unloading and placement at the Historical Society Museum was handled by United Precast of Mount Vernon. The new unit will be ready for display later in 2015, located beside the Society's other smaller, 2-cylinder Reeves engine in the industrial exhibit area.


Dan Emmett House News

Written by James K. Gibson, Director

Dan Emmett House     February 2, 2015 -  Planning continues for the rehabilitation of the Dan Emmett House, which was nearly destroyed by arson fire in June, 2014. Additional damage occurred in November when high winds peeled back the upper roof and completely removed the lower roof. Excellent repairs were completed quickly and on short notice by Modern Builders, completely enclosing the house to protect it from further damage and winter weather.
     This year, 2015, marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Dan Emmett. It is our sincere hope that the restoration of the house will be completed by August of this year. We as yet do not have a complete report from arson investigators and have only recently received the insurance settlement earlier this year. Nevertheless, we are in the process of obtaining bids from contractors for the restoration of the house.
    We are grateful for the donations toward this project which have been received from several area groups and individuals. Those wishing to assist with donations may do so through the website of the Mount Vernon and Knox County Community Foundation, at


A Sad Event at the Dan Emmett House

Written by James K. Gibson, Director

Dan Emmett House Fire     June 18, 2014 -  During the early morning hours of Monday, June 16, the Dan Emmett Birthplace Home was set ablaze and suffered great damage, both inside and out.

     Less than an hour later, another structure, an apartment house on East Street in Mount Vernon, was also set afire. An arrest was made in regard to the apartment fire, but so far no arrest or related charges have been made regarding the Emmett House. During the week following the fire we spent many hours with city administrators, arsonfire department personnel, insurance people, local and Columbus press, and especially the professional arson investigators, who needed meticulous drawings and earlier photographs of all the interior rooms and furnishings of the house prior to beginning their analysis of causes and origins of the fire.

    The Historical Society has owned and operated the house since the 1990's, giving tours during the Dan Emmett Festival each August and hosting visits by students each May from every 3rd grader in the Mount Vernon Schools.


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Knox County Historical Society

875 Harcourt Road
Mount Vernon, OH 43050

Phone No. : (740) 393-5247
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