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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

Warren County Museum Is One Of The Best In The Country

Dallas Bogan on 14 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

January 28, 1996

Within our midst lies a facility that is ranked among the top museums in the United States, the Warren County Museum. It is operated by the Warren County Historical Society and is located in Harmon Hall on South Broadway Street in Lebanon.
The Society had its beginnings in 1940 with its first meetings being held in the Golden Lamb Hotel. Quarters were later set up in Glendower in 1945. And in 1961, after various moves, Harmon Hall was made its permanent residence. The first charter members of this fine organization were: Ladora S. Owens, Jennie C. Stanley, Essie M. Keever, Louise A Herrick, Hazel Brooks, Mary G. Forgy, Hazel Spencer Phillips, Mary Jane Phillips, Wm. Mason Phillips, and Perle M. Riley.
G.H. Townsley, Audrey E. Townsley, Lee S. Dodds, Harry C. Schwartz, Frank C. Anderson, Lucy J. Anderson, Doris Hawke, John E. Holden, and Charters D. Maple, its first President.
Dixon Maple, son of the first President, presently holds the same position as his father. Dixon has offered much information regarding the Museum for this article, in which the writer is grateful.
Mary Payne became assistant director in 1982 and was appointed present director in 1991. Personnel that also dedicated themselves to the Museum preceded her.
Gladys Minuette has been employed by the Museum for 31 years in the custodial capacity. I guess if one were to pry into past personnel and concerns of the organization, they would probably ask Gladys.
At this time we shall explore some of the countless features incorporated into the Museum.
As we enter the facility we see many fine saleable items which are located in the Rocking Horse gift and bookshop.
The Village Green is the center piece for the many outstanding shops on display. Within this area, these store-like replicas are presented as businesses of times past.
The Blue Ball blacksmith shop has on exhibit many handmade items along with devices for making them. Included is a large bellows with a fireplace depicting the same time period.
Cowan's carpenter shop exhibits many old wooden hand tools that have since disappeared from our modern workplace.
Also on exhibit are an old bank building and its contents.
Most unique is the general store and its large inventory. Included are many flowery dishes, clothing articles, and for entertainment, an age-old checker board.
For those who are interested in old dolls, there are quite a few just waiting for someone to cherish them.
Also for you gun enthusiasts, a display room, complete with several old flintlock rifles, assorted pistols, and powder horns, is exhibited.
An early doctor's office, mostly equipped with surgical equipment, is also located on this floor. Close-by is a medicine shop and, in times past, I'm certain these remedies had great healing powers.
We should not forget the silversmith shop, or the clock shop with its numerous timepieces of the past.
A shoe shop with its shoe making devices, and an attorney's office is also on display.
Also exhibited on this floor are timeworn sleighs and buggies. A replica of an old hatter's shop can also be viewed.
The balcony has assorted items displayed such as antique glassware, furniture and a classic grandfather clock.
Russell Wright was a native of Lebanon. In this section we glimpse a number of his immeasurable contributions to the Society.
His designs included practical styles in china, glassware, wood and plastic ware, furniture, and the creation of spun aluminum. All these products found their way into most households in the 1940's and '50's. They helped lead America into a more informal life style.
This section also includes an array of dolls and baby carriages. Vintage musical instruments are to be observed and studied.
We now enter the Shaker Gallery. Featured are separate chambers that have their own identity.
Among these rooms is an early Shaker trustees office complete with furnishings.
A textile room, integrated with looms, spinning wheels, and workbench, is highlighted. Also a display case with Shaker household utensils can be seen.
An actual broom-making apparatus is to be examined. Brother Theodore Bater of the Shaker faith, as we know it, developed the first broom, in 1798. It was soon sold in every part of the world.
A dining area, complete with cupboard, dining table, and eating utensils, seemingly makes one want to set and dine.
Life would not be complete without a kitchen. On display are dough-trays, an apple-peeler, a flour-sifter, cupboards, stove, sink and many other items of interest to the housewife.
The bottom level continues with much inquisitiveness. Of special interest to the writer is the large room display of the many fossils and Indian artifacts found in the vicinity of Warren County.
A schoolroom, complete with desks, books and study guides, displays a likeness of the classrooms of yesteryear, which tends to bring back fond memories to our senior citizens.
A unique pottery display can be viewed, with all the items being either made or contributed by residents of the County.
Of special interest is the rather large farm implement arrangement in this section. The writer could not identify some of these tools of the past. However, with help from Mary Allen, assistant director, I was able to gather much knowledge regarding these items.
Amidst this exhibit is a wooden horse-drawn scoop farmers used for this particular type work. Also, early plows, seeders, grinding wheels, and a large assortment of wooden hand tools can be inspected.
A non-denominational chapel is partitioned off into a room by itself. Several different churches in the County have donated the furnishings.
A representation of an early Western Star print shop, along with a primitive type press and accessories, is of much interest.
An 1827 carriage, built by Stacy Cramer, local wagon-maker from Lebanon, is exhibited, accompanied by a well-preserved Waynesville mail hack.
One item that should be mentioned is the 1908 Buick that was donated by the Albert L. Ertel family of Warren County. It is in excellent shape considering the age of the vehicle.
Let us not forget the fine library with its historical and genealogical resources. Mary Klei, head librarian, has taken on the project of reorganizing this department and has worked wonders.
Also on display in this section is a large exhibit of photographs. Joe Worley and Herb Schwartz have taken it upon themselves to submit hundreds of photos and slides with respect to Warren County. They are all categorized as to community and event.
The Museum cannot operate without a sound Executive Board. And a tip of the hat to the many volunteers who take time out from their busy schedules to lend a hand. Without them the Society would be at a standstill.
Numerous events are scheduled each year to help compensate the facility regarding its upkeep. It has survived for many years and is still in an upward swing.

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