"These are well known all over the world and thus probably
Wellsville’s chief and most lasting claim to fame." What are
they? According to E. R. Eller, assistant in invertebrate paleontology
at Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, the answer is fossilized sponges. Mr.
Eller made the comment in 1937.
Edwin B. Hall (1852 – 1908), an avid naturalist, spent fifty years
collecting fossils in Wellsville and the surrounding area. Mr. Hall
founded Hall’s Drugstore and built the now famous Pink House. He
devised the secret formula for the distinctive color. His 30 by 60 foot
private museum adjoined the residence. He filled it with over 5,500
sponges of 80 distinct types. With his scientific research, he proved
prehistoric sponges were members of the animal kingdom and not of the
plant (algae) as popularly believed. The collection was awarded first
prize when exhibited at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901.
After his death, his family donated the collection to the Carnegie
Museum. In 1937, the museum gave some representative pieces to our
library to honor the life of Mr. Hall.
During the Devonian period over 410 million years ago, seas covered
New York State. The Sphenotus contractus fossil is a striking example of
a seashell found in Wellsville. The sponge, Ceratodictya carpenteriana,
was named for Mr. Hall’s daughter, Fannie Hall Carpenter. The library
will display the collection through the end of November.