Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Lucasville Area Historical Society: Why Preserve Local History?


Some people assume their pleasant existence is solely dependent upon factors now present in their own backyards. They define the status of their blessed communities through the beautiful homes, public services, and thriving businesses that adorn their surroundings. This assumption may deny the major role that history has played in their own community development – the role of the ordinary people and their real struggles and triumphs.

No society should ignore the events of its past. It is imperative that people understand their present state of well-being is largely a product of their heritage. Our predecessors have entrusted us not only to be good stewards of the land but also to be faithful protectors of the knowledge that records and explains events of long ago. In short, a study of local history is vital to the acumen of all residents.

American novelist Michael Crichton once used this metaphor to explain the role of history: “If you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree.” Those “trees” each breathe a lengthy narrative of stories and deeds that once took place in their particular locations. For generations, people have taken great pains to preserve these accounts in order that others may stay connected to their roots.

The acquisition of historical knowledge strengthens community pride and social fabric. Dr. Jonathan Healey, author and winner of the Thirsk-Feinstein Dissertation Prize for 2008 by the Economic History Society, cites specific reasons for the importance of local studies:

Local studies are important also for two more scholarly reasons. First, they reflect the social reality that our lives are lived out in particular localities:our place in the geography of the world is a major determinant of our lives in that world.

Second, local studies allow a degree of depth that simply isn’t possible in more wide-ranging studies. It allows us to get ‘under the skin’ of a historical community, to understand peoples’ relations to one another in much more detail than if we had simply seen them is part of a faceless mass of national statistics.”

(Jonathan Healey. “Why Local History Matters.” Lecture delivered at the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education. November 14, 2012.)

Lucasville, Ohio, has a rich history and a fabled identify. The town, itself, traces its European beginnings to 1800 and Captain William Lucas, who moved his family from Virginia to Ohio and took up a home in what was to become the village named for the family.

At the time of his coming, William was 58 years-old and a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Captain Lucas was the father of five sons and three daughters. One of his sons, Robert, commanded the local militia. He later became a general who served in the War of 1812. Later Robert was elected State Senator, and eventually Governor of Ohio and Governor of the Iowa Territory. Lucasville was platted on August 7, 1819, by John Lucas, William's brother.

The Lucasville Area Historical Society, a dedicated group of local residents has worked for many years to preserve the local heritage. Through their determined efforts and the undying work of community stalwarts like Alice Barker, Nelle Marie Yeager Bumgarner, and John Artis (just to name a few), they have collected a plethora of photos, clippings, and other artifacts. In fact, the society has published three major publications: Lucasville Ohio: Sesquicentennial 1819-1969 and A Backward Glance: The Lucasville, Ohio Area 1819-1919 volumes I and II.

At present, these invaluable materials are housed in a very small outbuilding in Lucasville. The collection is extensive and beautifully illustrative of the long past of the town. The present structure is much too small for adequate storage, display, and meeting. The society needs more space.

And now, the group has reached a crossroads. It is desperately seeking a permanent home suitable for their purposes. If no such facility is found, the community risks losing all of the artifacts, and, quite frankly, losing the society itself. What some see as old junk and worthless items, others see as irreplaceable folk treasures that require continued preservation.

The Lucasville Area Historical Society is planning to attend the meeting of Valley Trustees on Monday, June 26 at 6:00 p.m. The group hopes to go en masse to request using part of the old fire station for a home. They are asking for your support in this endeavor. You do not have to be a member of the society to attend and help the group. The meeting will take place at the new fire station.

Local studies do matter. In fact, they help establish us in a place. As people – friends, relatives, co-workers – we rely upon each other for vital connections. But also, we rely upon our history – family and local – to bind us as a cooperative social unit.

A strong tree of history, close to 200 years old, is waiting to be studied thanks to the Lucasville Area Historical Society. God pray that the gusty winds of time don't scatter the leaves, never to be discovered by inquisitive future generations. The astronomical loss would leave a space that could not be filled. Lucasville deserves loving care as one of the oldest, most respected communities in this part of the country. Preservation will increase wonderful future acquisition.

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