By Adam McCully
Are you a history buff? An antiquity aficionado? A devotee of days gone by? If so, you might be interested to know that one of the most decorated and celebrated historical societies in the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors region is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The Jefferson County Historical Society (JCHS) was founded in 1967. Several years later it was certified by the Jefferson County Commissioners as the “official historical society for the county”.
The men and women that made up the JCHS performed an innumerable amount of great and noteworthy deeds for Jefferson County and the surrounding areas throughout the years, but what could be considered their crowning achievement was the restoration of the Nathan Greene Edelbutte building, and its adaptation into one of the foremost history centers in Western Pennsylvania.
The Jefferson County History Center opened its doors to the public on March 26th, 2004, a date which also marked the 200th anniversary of the founding of Jefferson County (these people don’t do anything without at least a touch of historical significance). Since that time, the Jefferson County History Center’s unparalleled success has been recognized by two Awards of Merit and two H.K. Stevens Memorial Awards from the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations, as well as two Awards of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History.
So how has this small organization achieved such a large amount of success? Perhaps there’s no better explanation than the one provided by the society’s mission statement:
“Our purpose is to engage people of all ages in the history of Jefferson County. We collect and care for relevant objects, images and documents and we invite county residents and visitors to research our materials, interact with our exhibits, take part in our programs and read our publications, in order to encourage an understanding of our past and present and a vision for the future.”
The Jefferson County History Center and the Jefferson County Historical Society continue their tradition of excellence with events like the Antique Firearms and Indian Artifacts Show (September 2nd 2017), featured exhibits like the Bowdish Model Railroad Exhibit, celebrating Charles Bowdish and his miniature model railroad creations, and their continued efforts to take education outside of the History Center itself. Their most recent foray into spreading local history education to the public was the extremely successful Scripture Rocks Heritage Park, which showcases the works of Douglas Stahlman, who secluded himself to the woods surrounding Brookville and carved scripture into over 500 rocks.
Through these and other events, the Jefferson County History Center and the Jefferson County Historical Society continue to educate the public and engage future generations of local historians. They provide a valuable service to the community, and to all visitors, by keeping the past in the present.