History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
|Memorabilia & Ephemera
|1858 Invitation: Atlantic Cable Grand National Ball, Clyde Hotel
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:
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:
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, and this is confirmed by further research. Richard Cielesz found this reference to the Ball in The Clyde Weekly Times, September 4th, 1858, confirming the date and location of the great event:
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:
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):
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:
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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Last revised: 1 December, 2017