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Annie Lewis Dumville (1875-1978)
‘First Lady of Upson’

Published in the newspaper of the Upson Company of Lockport,
January/February 1956
photograph taken in 1879
taken in 1879

Lockport Union School Graduate, photograph taken in 1896
Lockport Union
School Graduate,
taken in 1896

with Grandpa Lewis, photograph taken in 1904
with Grandpa Lewis,
taken in 1904

Madam President! That’s the title and honor her fellow members of the Upson Quarter Century Club bestowed on Miss Annie L. Dumville at their annual dinner meeting in December when they unanimously elected our Mail Room supervisor as president for 1956.

Miss Dumville is not one to talk about herself but she delights in recalling anecdotes of the many dear friends she has known or events pertaining to Lockport’s history for the past 80 years. So we gathered notes from her brother and numerous friends and Upson associates.

Sometimes we engaged her in a bit of woolgathering without her suspecting too much that we planned to weave together a “This is Your Life - Annie Lewis Dumville” feature for the Quarter Centenary Club edition.

We hasten to point out we seldom reveal a lady’s most guarded secret. But, in this instance, we feel it’s truly remarkable Miss Dumville observed her 80th birthday last September and still remains as agile, thorough, conscientious and systematic as the day she became supervisor of the Mail Room 35 years ago!

At 80, the “First Lady” of the Quarter Century Club is the Upson Company’s oldest employee still on the job day in and day out. Another member of the so-called weaker sex - a phrase as “old hat” as “23 skidoo” - Miss Messie C. Bartholomew, veteran cashier, is our oldest employee in point of service. Next May 12 Bessie will note her 43rd anniversary with Upson!

To tell the Annie Lewis Dumville Story, let’s start with her parents and grandparents. Her father George Dumville was born in 1848 in Leeds, England, son of Joseph and Harriet Auton Dumville. Her mother Harriet Lewis was born in 1855 in Lockport, daughter of Elias G. and Ann Charles Lewis, both of whom came from Wales.

Remember Dumville Lager Beer and Ale? Father George was associated with his father Joseph in the brewing business. The Dumville & Son Brewery, 153 Van Buren St. at Vine, produced some of the finest and most asked for beer and ale from Grandfather Joseph’s secret recipe at a time when there were numerous competing breweries in town in 70’s and 80’s. Later it was known as the Lockport Brewing Company.

In 1874, Harriet Lewis became the bride of George Dumville. She was attended by Miss Clara Ritson, who became the mother of Mrs. Sanford S. Gooding. The newlweds first lived at the Lewis homestead, 88 Jackson St., where Annie was born the following year.

City Hall’s bureau of Vital Statistics records the arrival of Annie Lewis Dumville on Sept. 24, 1875 with Aunt Eliza J. Dumville in attendance. “Annie” is neither a diminutive of Ann nor Anna since she was named after her Aunt Annie Dumville and also had another aunt of that same name.

Two years later George Dumville moved his family to a home still standing at 351 Market St., across the banks of the old Erie Canal. There Annie’s brother Harry C. Dumville was born Dec. 20, 1877. Down the street lived Grandpa Joseph Dumville in the old homestead of Gov. Washington Hunt at Market and Adam.

Little Annie attended the old Vine Street School and still vividly recalls the many fine old families and wonderful, dear friends she knew in the neighborhood. Even today she can name the families dwelling in each home along Market Street when “Lowertown” was the social and commercial center of Lockport and the old Erire teemed with traffic and excitement as canalers hauled passengers and cargoes up and down Gov. DeWitt Clinton’s “Folly.”

Then tragedy struck. When only 39, George Dumville died in 1888. His widow sold their home and took the children back to the Lewis homestead. Grandfather Elias Lewis engaged in the canal boat building business and at one time was associated with the Morgan brothers - George, grandfather of our Director of Sales R. George Morgan, and Alfred, father of the late Mrs. Charles A. Upson.

Annie attended the first Clinton Street School, joined the First Methodist Church and was active in its work. Then, at 17, with her dark hair neatly parted in the middle and brushed straight back and pinned up, revealing her ears, it was a grown-up Miss Dumville who enrolled in the old Lockport Union School in 1891.

Her eyes sparkle and memories of those carefree schooldays return when anyone mentions the Class of 1896. The first class graduated from L.U.S. in 1858 comprised only four members. But the Class of ‘96 had 53 sweet girl graduates and handsome young blades and was the largest up to that year.

Mrs. R. George Morgan loaned us a yellowed copy of the “Junonalis” first yearbook ever published by L.U.S. students. It appeared belatedly in 1897 but Nicolas Walter Muller and Francis Xavier McCollum, editors and publishers, allocated Pages 48-55 to “the enviable class of ‘96.” They described their publication as “a medium of high literary excellence, a superior compilation of pure thought, brilliant wit, modest humor and authentic history.”

Page 48 pictures three Class of ‘96 officers, Secretary Annie L. Dumville (spelled incorrectly as Dunnville), President Charles A. Upson and Treasurer Evert O. Lansing. Annie’s secretarial report of “The Energetic 53” is set forth on the next two pages, followed by a list of the graduates’ accomplishments, including:

Annie Lewis Dumville
English Course, Graduating Essay “L.U.S. Alumni.” Committees: Mottoes, Tune for Class Song, Constitution for Permanent Organization, Secretary of Permanent Class Organization.

We quote from Annie’s spirited essay recounting events of 60 years ago:

Back in the early part of 1895, there was organized at L.U.S. a class that was destined to be the famous and ever renowned Class of ‘96. As a class we were very fond of a good time and hardly a week passed during our senior year but we either had or planned for some ‘jollification’. From our Acquaintance Banquet March 15, 1895 to our commencement Reception June 27, 1896, everything we undertook was a decided success.
Perhaps one of our strongest points was our wonderful independence. We minded no one’s business but our own, consulted no one, but went ahead and did just as near right as we knew how. Did you ever see any class pins? They were designed by us. In fact there were few things that we could not do and do well. even our yelling could not be surpassed. Truly we were the ‘Eclipse Class.’

Secretary Annie relates her class planned a new Commencement program to get away from the old routine of a class reception at the home of one of the members and graduating exercises at Hodge Opera House.

We determined, with the consent of the Faculty and Board of Education, to change this order of affairs and have class days, a class banquet, reception for our friends and a dance besides the regular exercises. Our Class days were held June 13 and 20 at our dear L.U.S. Commencement occurred the evening of June 26 and immediately after those exercises ‘96’s banquet was held at the Lockport Cafe.
Besides the class, there were present the Faculty, Superintendent Emmet Belknap, President Harrison S. Chapman of the Board of Education, Mayor Charles Peterson, Rev. B. M. Nyce and Rev. David Williams. Charles A. Upson, president of the class, was toastmaster.
Our reception and ball were perhaps our greatest social success. These occurred June 27 at Odd Fellows’ Hall. Was ever a night more perfect? The hall never looked better. Osgood’s Orchestra played its sweetest airs. The girls and boys looked and acted their best and our friends were in their happiest mood. Everyone who came had a thoroughly good time. Maybe we didn’t feel ‘unapproachable’ when one of the college men who had attended a great many such receptions and dances said, ‘I have never attended a better managed class affair.’ Everything was perfect.

Ten years ago 21 members of the Class of ‘96 gathered at the Park Hotel June 29, 1946 for their Golden Anniversary Reunion. Honored guests were Prof. Alexis V. Muller and Mrs. Christine Karslake Lerch, the only living members of the faculty 50 years ago.

Annie recalls no one remembered the tune or words of the class song. But the informal program opened with a hearty rendition of the old class yell. “C.A.” gave a short address and presented a number of gifts, including one “to Miss Dumville for her untiring efforts in carrying out plans and suggestions in making the reunion a success.”

Following graduation, Annie remained home to keep house for her mother and grandparents. In 1918, Mrs. Dumville and Annie moved “uptown” to 16 Waterman St., now the home of the Harold M. Kinzlys. That year Annie accepted a position with the old Penfold Art Company on Market Street and supervised the production of the colorful lithograph calendars extolling the virtues of Merchants Gargling Oil and other products of the day.

Then Betsy Cary, office manager of the Upson Company, asked Miss Dumville to comile a new Prospective Dealer List and make new address-o-graph plates. Annie joined us on Aug. 28, 1920 to begin the project, assisted by Ruth Bolton and a new messenger boy, Roger L. Slattery. They finished the job the following February and on March 1, 1921 Annie became supervisor of the Mail Room, succeeding Ola Slayer who became file clerk.

Annie’s brother, Dr. Harry C. Dumville, who supplied some of this biographical data, was graduated from the Union School on 1899, then entered the New York Medical School where he received his M.D. degree. Dr. Dumville, who was 78 on Dec. 20, still practices medicine and lives at 521 Fourth St., Niagara Falls.