Group works to create museum for Spencer area history
By Kris Leonhardt
A small group of local historians are working to bring forth a museum dedicated to the rich history of the Spencer area. Although the efforts are becoming more visible in recent years, the roots of the project date back 40 plus years with a deep history of its own.
“We had a centennial in 1974 and that got people’s interest going on trying to collect old things and old stories,” said Ron Draeger, who heads up the technology side of the future museum. “A lot of that ended up in this collection.”
Through the centennial celebration efforts, a history book and commemorative plate were created to raise funds. Those funds were placed into a savings account with the hopes that someday they could do something with a historical museum and it just never evolved,” added Chairman Jerry Kobs.
“Originally, 1996-97 I would say, Bettye Nall and Barbara Rux were the two that really spearheaded getting it started, and had a small group of people that met periodically. It lasted maybe 5-10 years, then it kind of dropped by the wayside.
“They had picked up items along the way that people had given them and had continued to store it…
“We picked it up when I got the call to be the chairman – that was in February of 2014.”
Kobs spent some time with Nall to get a feel for the project before taking on the chairmanship, then approached seven individuals in the community with longevity and an eagerness to help with the historical collection. The group formed the Spencer Area Historical Society and obtained permission from the village to use a portion of the Olde Hall complex, which was once used as the village’s hall and fire department, for a museum.
The collection will cover the history of four townships – Brighton, Spencer, Sherman, and Unity – as well as the village of Spencer.
While the group has seen a continuing influx of historical items coming in, it continues to search for old scrapbooks, photos, memories, and yearbooks for the area.
The collection features a nearly complete collection of Spencer yearbooks, but the group continues to search for the 1939, 1942, 1943, and 1947 editions.
An opening for the Spencer museum is planned for late summer.
“We’ve still got a couple of months of things we would like to do before we start bringing in some folks,” said Kobs. “What we are hoping to do is have a heritage week and start bringing people in (and) probably on that Saturday, have a ribbon cutting and so on.”
To join the Spencer Area Historical Society
The Society is open to those interested in maintaining the history of the greater Spencer area.
The group currently consists of approximately 25 members.
There are yearly and lifetime options for membership, with a nominal fee.
The group meets the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Olde Hall complex, 117 E. Clark, Spencer
If you have items to donate or are interested in joining the Historical Society, you may contact Jerry Kobs at 715-659-5577 or Ron Draeger at 715-659-5182.