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The Brown County Press - Sunday, June 9, 2013 - Page 11

BY Martha B. Jacob The Brown County Press The Village of Russellville consists of about 139 families (561 total residents.) It’s a quiet, peaceful place to raise a family and now thanks to the efforts of a community group called the Russellville Community Action Planners (RCAPS), the long history of the village is being preserved. According to Lucille Gelter, one of the many active members of the group, the Russellville Community Museum is now available for everyone to tour. “In the fall of 1998 a group of Russellville residents (the Russellville Community Action Planners) leased the old Russellville-Jefferson School after the new high school was built,” Gelter said. This museum was one of our first projects “The last class to graduate from this school was the eighth grade in 1997. Gelter said that the building went up for sale at auction and sold to a resident, and was later sold to RCAPS for $1. The entire building has now been renovated with several businesses operating out of it including the Russellville Police Department. Gelter said that the Village of Russellville was first recognized as a village in 1817. “Here at the Russellville Community Museum, we have the original hand-made American Flag made by a local resident, especially for that day in 1817,” Gelter said with pride, as she pointed out the old, faded flag which hangs on one of the walls of the museum. “This museum is filled to capacity with items

from the Russellville area,” she continued. “Some items were donated while others are on loan to the museum. “One of the oldest items we have in the museum is an old wooden trunk, from 1877 on loan from the Eric Erickson family.” Gelter said the RCAPS group started up with absolutely no money to work with, but wasted no time in holding it’s first fundraiser to change that. “We organized a “Taste of Russellville” fundraiser, held in the village park,” Gelter said. “And it was a huge success, earning our group over $4,000. Soon we started getting donations and contributions of all kinds for the museum as well as other work that needed to be upgraded at the old school building. “Eventually families began leaving money to RCAPS by bequest when they passed away and with those donations we were able to a lot.” Gelter said that when they first got the building, it had been completely gutted. “We were quite blessed when Milicron donated all their old desks and other office supplies to us when they revamped their offices,” she said. “It was wonderful of them. Then in 2004 a woman named Hope Woods Gano left a substantial donation to our group. She was a graduate of the school in 1945.” Gelter said that a trust was set up and a trust committee was created to manage the funds. It was amazing all that we were able to do. We replaced windows, doors, the heating system, the roof, on three occasions, you name it, we replaced or repaired it. It was just too good to be true.”

Gelter graciously showed off some of the items that had been donated and collected for the Community Museum including: • All of the graduation class pictures dating back to 1927 up to 1997; • All of the sports trophies on display from 1927 to 1997; • Many scrapbook collections from organizations and estates containing news clippings from the late 1800’s; • Scrapbooks and minutes from the Colonial Dames Organization, Anthony Shaw Chapter; • An old quilt dating back to 1889, on loan from Danny and Kathy Kennedy; • An old picture of President George Washington donated from member of the old Jefferson Grange; • old 4H projects made by students, diplomas from 1918, 1925 and others; • old man and womans bathing suits and ball gown dating back to the old flapper days; • shelves and shelves of old newspapers, magazines and newsletters; • several old military uniforms from World War I; • the Russellville Alumni minutes from 1927 to date, 2013; • Collections from the Junior Womens Club and items from every church in the Russellville area. “All of these items are priceless to us,” Gelter said. “There’s nothing in here of any great value, but because of their history, they are valuable to our community.” To visit the museum contact Gelter at (937)377-5224 to schedule a tour.

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Village of Russellville proud of its Community Museum, thousands of historical items on display

Martha B. Jacob/The Brown CounTy Press

russellville Community Action Planners member Lucille Gelter shows off one of two books containing the minutes from the russellville Alumni from 1927 to 2013.

Martha B. Jacob/The Brown CounTy Press

All the school class pictures of graduates of the russellville-Jefferson school still hang in the old school building which has been renovated by community members.

Martha B. Jacob/The Brown CounTy Press

This 1817 handmade American flag has been framed and is located in the russellville Community Museum. russellville became a village in 1817.

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Brown County Press, June 9, 2013  

Brown County Press, June 9, 2013

Brown County Press, June 9, 2013  

Brown County Press, June 9, 2013