Biography of Dwight R. Burrell, Dr.
The late Dr. Dwight R. Burrell, for nearly thirty-five years a prominent and honored citizen of Canandaigua, New York, actively identified with its social and business life, enlisting in every movement that was made for the progress and prosperity of the community, was born at Sheffield, Loraine county, Ohio, March 1, 1843, at the homestead which his grandfather had built nearly a quarter of a century before and which today remains in possession of the fifth generation of the Burrell family.
After spending his boyhood on the farm and gaining his preparatory education in the common schools of the neighborhood, he took a course of study at Oberlin College, graduating from that institution in 1866. He subsequently took the medical course at the Michigan University, Ann Arbor, and upon its completion first engaged in the practice of his profession as an assistant physician in the New York City Asylum for the Insane on Blackwell’s Island. After a year’s service there, Dr. Burrell took a similar position in the Bloomingdale Asylum in New York City, where he remained for about seven years. In 1876 he received a call from Canandaigua, New York, to take the position of resident physician at Brigham Hall, which had been made vacant in June of that year by the tragic death of its founder, Dr. George Cook. Dr. Burrell then entered upon the management of an institution which had already gained wide reputation of its success in treating nervous disorders and which had been named in honor of his own uncle. Dr. Amariah Brigham, eminent for many years as the superintendent of the State Hospital at Utica. That Dr. Burrell maintained the reputation of Brigham Hall on the high plane upon which it had been established and developed its work in a way that won it recognition as a model among private institutions of its character, is a sufficient eulogium upon his ability as an alienist and upon the character of his service to suffering humanity.
By his active participation in public affairs, Dr. Burrell soon became recognized as one of the leading and public-spirited citizens of Canandaigua. Although not a politician in the true sense of the word, he was keenly interested in the success of the Republican party in his adopted city and state, also in the nation. In 1895 he was nominated and elected on its ticket to the office of village trustee from the fourth ward, and so efficient were his services in that capacity that he became the candidate of his party in January, 1897, for the office of village president. He was defeated at the succeeding election and the cause of village progress was temporarily checked, but he lived to see the village accept with practical unanimity the ideas which he had advanced, and to be accorded popular recognition for the part which he had taken in the inception of the movement for an approved and thorough system of street improvement. He was appointed president of the Canandaigua Association upon its organization in 1902 and held that position to the time of his death. His interest in preserving the trees of the village and in forwarding every step that made for the beauty of its streets and parks never slept. He was one of the organizers of the Canandaigua Cemetery Association and served as a member of its board of trustees.
He also took great interest in everything that pertained to the history of the region of the state in which he resided, and in public addresses, in the erection of boulder memorials, and in his service as an officer of the County Historical Society, he was instrumental in fostering public pride in the events through which Western New York was opened to settlement and brought into vital relations with the life of the Nation. Dr. Burrell displayed his patriotism to his country by enlisting, while yet a student at Oberlin, as a private in Company K. One Hundred and Fiftieth Ohio Volunteers.
Dr. Burrell was ever a friend of the needy and suffering. and manifested that friendship in numerous unostentatious ways. He was a member of the board of managers of the Clark Manor House and until his last illness acted as its president. He was also one of the incorporators of the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Hospital and acted for several years as a member of the executive committee in charge of that institution. He was a member of St. John’s church and for years held the office of senior warden.
Dr. Burrell married, March 20. 1890, Clara Kent, of Kentland, Indiana, who survives him. Dr. Burrell died June 22, r910, and his demise was the occasion of sincere sorrow in the community where he had lived so long and worked so unselfishly.