The Crooked Lake Review

Featured Author

Home Index Museums Blog Authors Site Map About


Gladys Dunton

1901 to 2001

Gladys Dunton contributed her reminiscence of life in Naples, New York, during the early years of the 20th century to the Spring 2000 issue of the Crooked Lake Review. She recalled distinctly the inhabitants of her birthplace village over the years of her childhood and adolescence. Her recollections of itinerant tradesmen and entertainers and the annual Chautauqua programs in Naples is in the summer 2001 issue.

Miss Dunton's life very nearly spanned one hundred years—she was born August 11, 1901 and died on July 12, 2001. She taught in rural schools around Naples and Bristol and in Springwater before teaching in Hornell from 1931 until her retirement in 1964.

About Gladys Dunton by Beth Flory

When South Bristol's Wilder Cemetery was rededicated in June of 1998, Gladys Dunton was in the front row of spectators, beaming with pleasure. For at least 25 years she had campaigned for the restoration of this earliest of Town cemeteries where lie the founding father, Gamaliel Wilder, as well as Dunton ancestors. The newly organized South Bristol Historical Society had tackled the formidable work of clearing trees and brush. Gravestones were uncovered, the ceremony planned, and no one was more pleased to be present than Gladys Dunton, who was then nearly 97.

While living very much in the present, she remembers her early life with uncommon clarity. She is descended from William Dunton who came to Naples from Natick, Massachusetts, in 1793. Naples village, where she was born in 1901 to Albert and Carrie Dunton, was a lively community. Like other small towns of that period, Naples was keen about bands and music. Her father led his own band and orchestra for over twenty years and his enthusiasm became her own. Rehearsals were often held at home; the house still stands on Main Street next to the venerable Orange Inn, but its exterior has been greatly altered.

As she grew up, her world widened. She earned a Bachelor's degree from Geneseo State Teachers College. Her teaching career began in a small rural school; she moved on to spend 33 years in a North Hornell school. She traveled both in this country and abroad and enjoyed music and drama in Rochester. For over 40 years she lived in a converted country schoolhouse in Springwater, gardening, hiking and birdwatching. In 1990 her home was sold. She now has an apartment in Canandaigua.

Gladys Dunton's interest in preserving the details of small town life early in this century has not diminished. She looks back on her past with satisfaction, appreciation and humor and her own words reveal a quiet courage as well: "I never married—I found out when I started teaching that they did not hire married teachers. Having elderly parents depending on me and needing to teach, I ended my marriage plans. I had a very pleasant life and a sister whose children were always 'my children'."

CLR Blog | Site Map | Contact CLR