History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Memorabilia & Ephemera
1858 Invitation: Atlantic Cable Grand National Ball, Clyde Hotel

Grand
National Ball
In Honor of
The Atlantic Telegraph

3¾" x 5½" with embossed border decorations

Image courtesy of and copyright © 2013
Richard E. Cielesz

This invitation to a “Grand National Ball” for the 1858 Atlantic cable, dated September 1st, 1858, was for an event to be held on the same day as the celebration in New York City. Thanks to site visitor Richard E. Cielesz for providing the image of the invitation, and for his research into the history of this event.

The celebrations of that day were mainly in the USA, although there are reports of events in Canada and Great Britain. The Daily Alta California newspaper (Volume 10, Number 269, 1 October 1858) mentioned a number of the North American locations:

Celebrations were also held on the same day at Philadelphia, Montreal, Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Worcester, St Louis, and at various other places.

As there is no locality on the invitation, Richard and I could initially only speculate on the whereabouts of “The Clyde Hotel”. One possibility was Clyde, New York, a village in Galen Township, Wayne County, then and now set on the Erie Canal in the countryside midway between Rochester and Syracuse.

The Erie Canal was completed in 1825 and was a major spur to the industries of northern New York State. Every settlement along the canal benefited from its heavy traffic, and Clyde was no exception, as its history at the link above will show. Clyde was also a station on the New York Central Rail Road (NYCRR), and would have been quite a lively place in the 1850s.

The book “Landmarks of Wayne County, New York”, published in 1895, has this history of the Clyde Hotel:

The site of the present Clyde Hotel was originally occupied by the Clyde Coffee House, a two-story hostelry, erected by a Mr. Whitmore in 1818. It was burned in 1826 while Horatio G. Kingsbury was proprietor, and in the same year the first Clyde Hotel was built by David Williams and Benjamin Ford. It was two stories high, but when P.G. Denison became proprietor he added another and Peter Ryerson subsequently built the north wing. With adjacent buildings it was burned September 11, 1883. The present Clyde Hotel was opened November 18, 1884.

While the book does not mention the Grand National Ball of 1858, it does include information on many of the prominent citizens of Clyde of that period. The invitation lists managers and committee members for the Ball, and checking these names against the book gives too many matches to be coincidence (see below). It is a reasonable conclusion that the Clyde Hotel in Clyde, NY, was the site of the 1858 Grand National Ball.

After further research, Richard Cielesz has found a reference to the Ball in The Clyde Weekly Times, September 4th, 1858, page 2, which confirms the date and location of the great event:

Sept. 1st was appointed by the great cities of the world as a day of Cable rejoicing. A few choice spirits of this place had a Ball on the occasion, and about midnight to daylight the next morning, made the welkin ring with the firing of cannon, and cheers from their well-oiled throats.

There was evidently considerable interest in Clyde, as elsewhere, in the Atlantic Cable. Issues of the The Clyde Weekly Times from August 1858 had articles on the progress of the cable expedition, and the front page of the September 4th issue had a story on “Laying the Cable” by the correspondent of The Times of London which ran to four columns of text.

The Clyde Weekly Times and other historic newspapers from the Clyde area may be searched at the Digital Archives of the Clyde-Savannah Public Library.

Full text of the invitation:

 

Grand
National Ball
In Honor of
The Atlantic Telegraph

The company of yourself and Lady is respectfully solicited on this occasion

At the Clyde Hotel

On Wednesday Evening, September 1st, 1858

 

Managers:

Isaac Miller Wm.C. Ely Edward Jones
S.J. Child J.C. Miller L.T. Snedaker
J.H. Ely R.H. Durfee T.C. Olds
F.C. Reed C. Miller A.F. Redfield
H. Goodchild Jr. R.R. Matteson D. Colvin
C. O'Neil John Horton D. Platner

 

Room Managers:

J.H. Ely T.C. Olds H. Goodchild Jr. F.C. Reed

 

Committee of Arrangements:

I. Miller L.T. Snedaker C. Aurand C. Miller

 

A good band will be in attendance

 

Names from the invitation which are also mentioned in “Landmarks of Wayne County, New York” are listed here; the names from the book are shown (in parentheses):

D. Colvin (Darwin Colvin); E.H. Durfee (Edward Durfee); H. Goodchild Jr. (Henry Goodchild); Edward Jones (Edward Jones); Isaac Miller (Isaac Miller); T.C. Olds (Dr. T.C. Olds); A.F. Redfield (Albert F. Redfield); F.C. Reed (Francis Reed).

The Galen Township website has a number of historical directories in which further names from the invitation can be found, including Charles Aurand with premises at the rear of the Clyde Hotel in 1869, and Mrs. L. Snedaker.

The location of the Clyde Hotel is given in contemporary accounts as the corner of North Park Street and Glasgow Street. Wayne Morrison's “History of Clyde”, largely based on earlier accounts, notes that after the Clyde Coffee House burned in 1826, the Clyde Hotel was built on the same site:

“...and faced the Public Square, with fifty-four feet front, forty-five feet depth, and was two and a half stories high.”

The park, formerly a common (“the Public Square”), still exists today, but the site of the hotel is now a gas station.

This Google Street View of the area, taken from Glasgow Street and looking west down North Park Street, shows the park to the left and the former site of the Clyde Hotel on the right.


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