The Hometown History column is presented by the Fenton History Center and The Post-Journal. Each Friday, a distinct item from the Fenton History Center collections or archival special collections will be featured. Learn about your hometown history through parts of its past.
If one of the items featured brings back some memories or brings up a question, please contact the Fenton History Center at 664-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org to share your memory or get an answer to your question.
Many readers of this column already know that the Fenton History Center in the last two weeks has moved the research center (library) from the mansion to the Hall House next door.
An area on the first floor of the Hall House has been renovated to accommodate the research center’s books, files and reading room. As with any move, whether it is next door, as was our case, or a move of a home cross-country or a student off to college, planning helps, dumb luck is welcome and, in our case, many volunteers made for a successful move. Many books, files and even the computers were boxed up and moved. Next comes the unpacking and arranging everything in the new space.
A quote attributed to author A.A. Milne seems to relate to our move: “One advantage of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” As the cataloging back-log was packed, there was no time to look at everything on the shelf, the books and papers just went into a box. Now as each box is unpacked as cataloging begins, the “disorder” of quick packing should reveal some “exciting discoveries:” discoveries of items not earlier examined to see just what the book or the archival papers actually contained. I know that there are some old books from the 1800s such as “Valley of the Amazon,” as well as the new book, “Our Scandinavian Heritage,” waiting to be cataloged.
Just packing items that have been on my desk, there is now a promise of some new research as I unpack those boxes. I had some artifacts that may appear in future “Hometown History” columns. There was a milk bottle from a local dairy about which I need to find information. Milk bottle caps have been done but not the bottle. A large and very fancy dagger or sword needs to have its story revealed.
Then there are the boxes that came from the various nooks and crannies of the mansion that we had filled as we ran out of space. In those boxes, we may discover the special item that we had forgotten about since it had arrived and has been waiting to be processed into the collection. Most everything that we receive has its own story, even everyday items that were used by an earlier generation. As times change these items become curiosities to the younger generations who are now wired to electronics and are not familiar with that hand-cranked apple peeler.
As we continue to unpack our “disorder” of boxes, there are sure to be “exciting discoveries” that just may appear in future “Hometown History” columns. And many of you could probably have the same experience if you cleaned out that one drawer you have that seems to collect all that does not fit somewhere else.
The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County’s history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.
Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.
If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.