The Dansville Michigan Historical Society has secured a location, and the pandemic is part of the reason why.
We all know the cliche, that it takes a village to raise a child. But Dansville, Michigan, A small village in Ingham County, has remained connected for several generations. What’s the key to a tight-knit city? Kelen Gailey, president of the Dansville Historical Society, put it this way: preserving the history of the community.
The notion of conserving their town’s history first struck Gailey while he was in middle school. His grandmother was showing him a picture, he asked her, “who are the other people?” When she was unable to answer, that really stuck with him. He was sure some of the people in the pictures could’ve been his classmates, grandparents.
Gailey took this information and held it close. He began studying about Dansville in college. He knew there was more he could do. So the society was in the making.
It all started with a Facebook group Gailey made in 2010. This page connected people from Dansville, no matter where they were in their current lives.
“I think our biggest thing is just making sure that we can reach more of our community … That’s moved away.” Gailey said. “I have an uncle that lives down in Georgia, I know people that live in South Carolina and in Texas.”
No matter where citizens of Dansville live, they might wish to be connected to their roots. That is part of the reason why this Facebook page turned into a society by 2017.
The Dansville Historical Society started meeting at one of the oldest buildings in town, the old Methodist Church, which transformed into a community center.
However, the pandemic put this form of meeting to an end. Luckily the society started off completely online, easing its adjustment.
Choosing the location was very important for this society. “We’re a small village, but we didn’t want something on the outskirts.” Gailey said. “We wanted something where people could come to us afterwards.” By afterwards, Gailey means shopping at the local store, or the local restaurant.
They wanted to be more than just a private organization, something that involved the community.
“Our real hope is that with having a building we’re able to connect our youngest and oldest generation.” Gailey said. According to Gailey, generations before him have been collecting history. Now 40 years later they’re building on what their grandparents left behind for them to follow.
Gailey isn’t the only person wishing to preserve the history of Dansville. Kathy Driggs, a society trustee, says it important that the legacy and the events that happen live on forever.
But when things shifted with COVID, the Dansville Historical society got lucky.
“Now it’s a matter of how we are going to best use the space to provide our goal: the goal of sharing that history and preserving that history,” said Gailey.
The society hopes to not only embrace the history throughout Dansville, but the local community as well. They’re hoping to work with local businesses and community members to build display cases and furniture. A place for the people of Dansville, by the people of Dansville.
With a location secured, the society has started a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for building.