Evelyn Cornell Hallock Dabney was born June 9, 1895 in Almont, Lapeer, Michigan to Roy P. Hallock (1872-1942) and Winifred Elinor Cornell Hallock (1873-1948). She lived almost her entire life in Almont except for about a five year period in the early 1930s when she lived in Findley, Ohio.
Evelyn’s family had deep roots in the Almont community. Her second great-grandfather, Caleb Hallock, brought his sons, Zadock, Thomas, and James, and daughters, Eliza and Abigail, to Almont from New York in the mid-1830s. Her great-grandfather, Zadock Hallock was the Almont Township Supervisor in the early 1850s. Her ancestors, Caleb, Zadock, and Watson (grandfather) all farmed around Almont.
Her father, Roy, worked as a butcher. He also was the Almont Postmaster from 1916 to 1924 and again from 1933 until his death.
Roy built the family house at 223 East St. Clair Street in 1900.
Evelyn grew up attending Almont schools and graduated with the Class of 1914. She then attended Michigan State Normal to attain her permanent teaching certificate.
On August 22, 1917 in Almont, she married Clifford Burdette Dabney.
Clifford was born on June 2, 1893 in Woodville, Henry, Ohio to Frank Dabney (1870-1944) and Susan Imogene Coleman Dabney (1870-1943). He worked as a jeweler and watch repairman except while in Ohio, when he ran a clothing and shoe business. In 1943, he followed his father-in-law, Roy P. Hallock, as Almont’s Postmaster. He was Postmaster until his death on September 19, 1952.
Evelyn and Clifford had one child, son David Hallock Dabney born on March 26, 1921 in Almont.
Shortly after getting married, Evelyn began giving piano lessons and would continue until shortly before her death — more than 50 years.
When Evelyn and Clifford returned to Almont from Ohio, they purchased the house at 702 South Main Street. This home is on Jonathan and Catherine Sleeper’s homestead. The center section of the home is Jonathan and Catherine’s original log cabin from 1830, which makes it the oldest structure in Almont Township and Lapeer County. In the 1850s when the frame structure was added to the east of the log cabin, the cabin was incorporated into the home. Later an addition was added to the west of the cabin, which gives the home its current appearance.
When taking piano lessons, most of her students entered through the side door directly into the old log cabin portion of the home but some entered through the front door into the home’s original parlor. Lessons were taught in the center section of the home on an ornate upright piano. Once a year she would hold a recital for her students. The recital was given in the home’s front parlor on a grand piano. That piano now sits in my dining room where my wife occasionally plays it.
I took lessons for about five years and stopped when I began playing football. It was tough to play with hands that had been stepped on while practicing and playing football. I rarely practiced but when at a lesson Mrs. Dabney was always patient and encouraging. When I finally quit, she probably said, “Thank God.” I was never able to play a song which I hadn’t practiced to play at a recital. Today, the only thing that I can play is “scales.” Unlike me, she was able to teach hundreds of children to play the piano and develop a love of playing music.
In the summers after school got out, she also taught group art classes. These classes I enjoyed because you didn’t have to practice and there were a group of students. She would go from student to student giving them some instruction. When the students were doing landscape drawings of scenes from around town, she would give us history tidbits about that house or structure. One of the items I was recently reminded of was the arrowheads and Native American artifacts that her neighbor had found when planting their garden. I still have several of the charcoal drawings that I did of my family’s home and of the Dabney house.
After Clifford’s death, she taught art at the elementary school for several years.
Mrs. Dabney passed away on April 21, 1973 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and was laid to rest in the Ferguson Cemetery in Almont.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s Homecoming book, “Remembrances of Almont 2020”can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.