Happy 200th, Wayne County - From all your communities
by Tami Lange
As Wayne County celebrates its bicentennial, the Wayne County Historical Society wants to make sure no one forgets all the communities that compose it.
The exhibit, Wayne County’s 200th Anniversary, opened last month at the society’s campus on East Bowman Street and will continue through Saturday, Oct. 27. Visitors are welcome from 1-4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
According to David Broehl, society president, the exhibit is actually a collection of smaller exhibits from the county’s 16 historical societies. The WCHS works in cooperation with all of them and, Broehl said, asked that each society use a glass case in the Kister Building “to depict the history of their own community.”
The results have been wonderful, he said, not to mention educational. At the center of the room is a 1904 red-and-white tree of life quilt, signed by 403 members of the Moreland community, part of a fundraiser for the Methodist Episcopal church. The Moreland group is the newest of the county’s historical societies.
Among other interesting (and perhaps lesser-known) items in the exhibit are a salesman’s sample of a glass top casket from the Crystal Burial Case Co. of Orrville, a large metal jug from the Wooster Insecticide Co. and old newspaper articles about an 1894 fire that wiped out downtown Dalton and a 1965 two-train head-on collision in Sterling. There are old journals, a few uniforms, advertising from companies long gone, artwork and accounts from and stories about citizens who helped their communities grow and prosper.
There isn’t a competition among the different societies. In fact, Broehl said, “Overall, 99 percent (of the time), we’re working together.” Having multiple societies also increases the amount of overall floor space for exhibits and “has increased the overall numbers of volunteers because” local people might be more inclined to work inside their community society, rather than on a county-wide basis, he noted.