Edward S. Dana

Biography of Hon. Edward S. Dana

Edward S. Dana
Edward S. Dana

DANA, HON, EDWARD S. It is believed that every person by the name of Dana in the United States entitled to that name by birth, traces descent from Richard Dana, who came to Cambridge, Mass., from England in the year 1640. Tradition states that Richard’s father emigrated from France to England in 1629, on account of religious persecution. We have it on good authority that the name in France was Dunois, and belonged to a noble family. Judge Bell states that in the southern part of New Hampshire there are families bearing the name who do so by authority of an act of the Legislature, changing their former name to Dana. Edward Summers, sixth generation from Richard, was the son of Austin and Susan (Gale) Dana. Austin was born at Amherst, Mass., May 31, 1795. While yet a child he came with his parents, Eleazer and Sarah (Cutter) Dana, to Weybridge, Vt., which was the home of Eleazer until his wife’s death, which occurred about 1822. He then resided in Bridport, Vt., with his son Austin for eight years. They then removed to Cornwall on to the General Summers Gale farm, where Eleazer died November 10, 1838, and Austin July 23, 1870. Edward Summers Dana was born on April 27, 1834. He had two sisters: Sarah A. and Eliza M., the former older and the latter younger than himself, who both reside in Cornwall, Vt. At an early age he showed a great fondness for books and study. He received an academic education. His first course was at Newton Academy, Shoreham, Vt.; at the age of thirteen he was two terms at Williston, and three terms was under the instruction of uncle Jacob Spaulding at Bakersfield. He taught school there the winter before he was sixteen, and in Bridport the following winter. Here he took a severe cold which resulted in pneumonia, which obliged him to abandon the idea of a collegiate course, for which he was preparing. This was the disappointment of his life. He remained on the farm with his father until 1861, with the exception of one term at Fort Edward Institute. He was a page in the House of Representatives in 1853; Colonel C. H. Joyce, afterward member of Congress, was page at the same time. He was assistant clerk of the House in 1855, ’60 and ’61. In the spring of 1861 he went to Washington as a clerk in the Pension Office. He was examiner of pensions for some years, and in 1866 was appointed assistant clerk of the United States House of Representatives, where he remained until 1871. The death of his father called him home, where, with the exception of the following winter which he spent in Washington, he remained on the farm until 1877. He then removed to New Haven and purchased the home of his wife’s parents. He married Mary Howe, daughter of deacon Calvin and Mary (Henry) Squier, on September 11, 1861. They had two sons: Charles Summers, born September 13, 1862, and who now resides on the farm; and Marvin Hill, born March 2, 1867, and who is now a senior in Middlebury College. While in Wasington Mr. Dana devoted much of his time and labor to improving the condition of soldiers, securing comforts for the sick and wounded, obtaining passes for friends to visit there; etc., and performing a large amount of work for acquaintances in Vermont and elsewhere. At the second inauguration of President Lincoln, Mr. Dana was chosen one of the two marshals from Vermont to act as escort on the line of march. He was a member of the Vermont Legislature in 1874, and State senator in 1880, serving on the Committee on Railroads, State Prisons, and proposed Amendments to the Constitution. When a member of the House he was chairman of the General Committee, and worked faithfully to secure the removal of the Reform School to Vergennes, and was the originator of and introduced the bill to provide a department for girls in that institution. Mr. Dana was a man of excellent clerical ability, and from his large experience in parliamentary affairs and natural adaptation, a superior presiding officer in public meetings. From boyhood he had been prominent in the political affairs of the State. He was one of the four delegates from this county to the first Republican State Convention held in Vermont. He was chairman of the Republican District Committee for four years; president of the Republican County Convention in 1878; was a delegate in many State, District, and County Conventions. He was chairman of the Committee on Resolutions in the State Convention in 1876. The last convention which he attended as a delegate was the District Convention at Burlington in 1882. Better if Vermont had more men of equal intelligence and probity, who would serve her with the same public spirit and unselfishness. Any scheme for the advancement of education in the town or State received his careful consideration, and, if deemed worthy, his hearty support. Broad and liberal in his views, he strove for that which he believed to be for the public good, and once committed to a line of action, its accomplishment became with him a duty. Conscientious and particular in the smallest matters, no work was entrusted to him that did not receive his careful attention. Sympathetic and generous, his charities and advice have benefited many, and his friends were always sure of his assistance in their behalf. Literary in his tastes, his well-stocked library was to him a companion; well-read in all the important literature of the day, his knowledge of men and events, his rare social qualities and fine conversational powers, together with his ability and experience, made him the center of every circle in which he was thrown. He took a deep interest in local matters, both educational and town. He was for four years selectman in Cornwall, Vt., and in New Haven was auditor, town clerk, and president of the Board of Trustees of Beeman Academy, at the time of his death. Mr. Dana was a leading member of the Masonic Fraternity; he was initiated October 6, 1856; he has been honored with the highest offices in the gift of Lodge, Chapter, and Commandery; he was a member of the Grand Lodge of the United States, and chairman on the Committee of Foreign Correspondence for several years.

In September, 1883, Mr. Dana received a fall which either occasioned or developed internal trouble, which reduced him to extreme feebleness for ten months. During the seasons following he was much improved in outward appearance and bodily vigor; was occupied with various literary works, as had been his custom for many years, formerly writing poetry as well as prose. His writings for the press, while in Washington, were instructive and historical. His strength failed alarmingly during the winter of 1885-86, but he courageously hoped that there might be yet many days of life for him; yet he was not deceived, but was ready to meet the messenger who had so often waited, seemingly determined that he should depart with him. That he so calmly waited his coming, is proof that his trust was in God and was well-founded. He was able to use his pen until the morning of February 22; while so doing, his right side was suddenly paralyzed, and although unable to speak, he retained his consciousness until the evening of the 24th, when he suddenly passed away. At all times during his extreme suffering his mind was clear and comprehensive on all subjects; his patience tireless, his sunshine cheering, and his hopefulness contagious.



Addison County VT,

Smith, H. P. History of Addison County Vermont: With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men And Pioneers. Syracuse, N.Y.: D. Mason & co., 1886.

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