The following letter was published in the Woman’s Journal on June 9, 1877. It details an impromptu ceremony honoring Clara Barton on May 30, 1877. At the time, Barton was recovering from exhaustion and ill-health caused by years of non-stop aid work in Europe in the sanitariums of Dansville, New York. – Jake Wynn, Director of Interpretation

Miss Barton on Decoration Day

Miss Clara Barton was the recipient of an appropriate testimonial of honor on Decoration Day. A number of the citizens of Dansville, New York, where she is at present residing, formed a procession, which was joined by about one hundred gentlemen and ladies from the “Hygienic Home” of that place. With band, banners and bouquets, they waited on Miss Barton. She had previously participated in the ceremonies of the day, delivering an address, and this visit was an entire surprise.

Dr. Harriet N. Austin, in a short speech, paid a beautiful tribute to “one whose grand humanity forbade her, even in war times, to know any North or any South, and whose labors have carried her beyond our country, holding fraternal bonds with the whole world.”

Another address and the singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” followed. To these Miss Barton replied most touchingly, after which the procession filed past the lady as she sat on the porch of her cottage, each guest laying a gift at her feet. When the last was deposited, she was literally hidden beneath the flowers.

“We mourn the fratricidal strife

That digs each soldier’s grave;

We strew our flowers on the sod

In honor of the brave;

But most of all we reverence those

Who seek man’s life to save


They rushed on the advancing foe,

They nobly fought and fell;

But there were those attending near,

‘Mid shower of shot and shell,

As brave in a diviner cause; –

They did their part well.”

Miss Barton is resting in this beautiful little town. She is well, considering the service she has performed. Had her strength permitted, she would have sailed, ere this for the sad scenes of conflict across the waters.

Anna Oliver,

Dansville, Livingston Co., N.Y.

Article accessed through the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. 


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