My name is Beatrice Van Dressen and I was born in the Old Hotel in Cadiz to Maggie and Milton Van Dressen on October 13, 1876. My grandfather was Joseph Ransbury. We later moved to Frankfort, New York but would often come back to Franklinville to visit.
I fell in love with hot air balloons when I was only 15 and convinced Mama and Papa to let me train with Professor Carl Myers. My first ascension was in Schenectady, New York and then later in Utica. I loved to take chances and Professor Myers became angry and said I was reckless! Just because when I ascended at Schenectady I disobeyed his warnings and threw out all my ballast and landed in a lake in teh Adirondacks. After all, I was rescued by a boatman! and then of course in the next ascent I traveled 70 miles past Utica and landed at Northville in Fulton County. Professor Myers dismissed me from his employee. I guess you could say that he fired me. But that didn't stop me! I continued to make ascensions in hot air balloons, working for other aeronauts. I spent the summer at Sylvan Beach performing. When the season closed I continued to make a tour of county fairs. I made many friends and had lots of admirers. Everyone said I was a bright and vivacious girl.
I was invited to perform at the Franklinville Fair on October 6, 1894. Of course I couldn't resist performing here. This was going to be my 13th and final ascent because on October 13th I would be 18 years old and it would be time to marry and settle down. My wedding was planned for October 20th. I would marry the love of my life, William Clark of Philadelphia.
I was supposed to make my final ascent at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the huge black balloon was not ready and required numerous white patches before it could be used. It was almost 5 o'clock before the launch could take place. The weather had become much cooler and I was chilled and exhausted. Mama begged me not to go up but I just couldn't disappoint all the people who were waiting for this event. Just think - 2,000 people! The races had just ended and the band had played the final selection so everyone came to watch.
I remember climbing on the trapeze and the balloon drifted to the northwest. The descent was supposed to be at Mount Prospect Cemetery. The crowd was cheering and waving handerchiefs. I was so tired adn cold. I was trying to hold on to the trapeze to release the parachute. I suddenly felt myself slipping. I struggled but I just couldn't hold on. And then, I was falling, tumbling through space. It seemed like forever! It only took 8 seconds for my body to fall 1600 feet to the ground. I died instantly on impact and never felt the multiple fractures. They found my body on the farm of William Kissock on Kingsbury Hill. My last thought was of Professor Myers warning me about being reckless. But it was too late.
My funeral was at the Methodist Church in Cadiz. Mama and Papa took me home to Frankfort and that's where my remains are.
From information in the files of the Ischua Valley Historical Society. Submitted by Maggie Fredrickson, Village of Franklinville Historian.