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Marysville Historical Society takes memories into the future
MARYSVILLE — Community members enjoyed appetizers and microbrews while they checked out the collection of the Marysville Historical Society at the Oct. 16 “Business After Hours.”
But for at least two of the attendees, the walls and cases of relics and documents possess a personal significance.
Ken Cage and Brandon Heslop are the president and vice president of the Marysville Historical Society, and while one of their primary practical goals is to raise funds for a Marysville Historical Society Museum, their greater goal is to pass on their passion for the history of their hometown.
Cage explained that the items on display in the public areas of the Marysville Historical Society’s current facility on Third Street represent only a fraction of the organization’s total artifacts.
“We’ve got at least twice as much stored behind the scenes here as we do on display,” said Cage, who added that the organization also has two storage facilities in town to house their possessions.
Cage thanked the number of individuals and groups, among them the Marysville Rotary, who have contributed either ongoing grants or annual payments to fund the museum, and hoped that the current economic downturn wouldn’t diminish their “A Dream Come True” capital campaign. He estimated that the organization has thus far raised “three-quarters of a million dollars” toward the project, whose total price tag is at least $2.5 million.
“It’s a labor of love,” Cage said, both of the capital campaign and of his membership in the Marysville Historical Society. “It’s my passion, and my wife’s passion.”
Cage has always been interested in history, and he’s always gotten a kick out of helping other people get interested in it, as well.
“About 80 percent of the people in this area have lived here 20 years or less,” Cage said. “It’s their new hometown and a lot of them know next to nothing about it because there aren’t a lot of places to learn about it.”
By helping local residents become more involved in, and informed about, the town in which they live, Cage believes that he’s performing a vital civic duty.
“Some of these people might even be mayor someday,” Cage said. “This makes them better equipped to be contributing members of the community.”
Cage admitted that it took some nagging to get him involved at first, but once he’d retired, the former logger found himself fascinated with Marysville’s history as a logging town. Even more than that, though, it’s the people he’s met through the Marysville Historical Society who have kept him involved.
“There are a lot of dedicated volunteers with common goals,” said Cage, pointing out a map of Marysville which includes all the streets’ original names, thanks to the memory of a 90-year-old member of the organization.
Heslop has lived far less history than that, but he’s no less interested in the town’s history.
He’s quick to point out that the Marysville Historical Society is actively involved in the community, volunteering at events ranging from state fairs to anti-crime nights.
“Ken and I meet once a week for breakfast,” Heslop said, excusing himself from the “Business After Hours” in the display area to explore the storage area. “It’s about relationships. These are great people, who have known me since I was very young. I grew up here and home is where the heart is. It’s hard to get away from.”
Heslop is not opposed to seeing the town change, as long as records and keepsakes remain to remind everyone of what it once was.
“We need to evolve, but we also have to preserve those memories,” said Heslop, as he showed off “one of my favorite things,” a set of hard-bound archives of The Marysville Globe dating all the way back to the early 20th century.
“I can pull these volumes out and look at different points in my life,” Heslop said. “I can see my brother at the Strawberry Festival, or our family’s business. I think a lot of people would be surprised that they can look up parts of their own lives.”
Heslop admitted that the storage area is in dire need of shelves, both for The Marysville Globe archives and for the rest of the Marysville Historical Society’s collection.
“It might look like junk, but there’s a story behind everything here,” Heslop said, gesturing to the organization’s ceiling-high stacks of preserved property. “If you fancy yourself a builder, we could use your help in getting our stuff organized here. We really need to tap into some Gen Xers and millennials. We can offer you a unique opportunity to find things of interest. It’s neat, it’s fun, and you meet dedicated people.”
The Marysville Historical Society is located at 1508 B Third Street, and you can find out more about the organization and its “A Dream Come True” capital campaign by logging onto www.marysvillehistory.org.