History is the focus of any historical society, preserving, interpreting, educating and inspiring a new generation being the essential elements of most any group dedicated to appreciating the past.

WAYNE COUNTY - History is the focus of any historical society, preserving, interpreting, educating and inspiring a new generation being the essential elements of most any group dedicated to appreciating the past. This year, 2017, the Wayne County Historical Society (WCHS) is the subject of its own history, the focus of a centennial celebration that is only just beginning.

This pinnacle in its own timeline is being utilized to assist in reaching the public with a thirst for knowledge of our  local heritage. From a contest to a book to a symposium to a grand new exhibit, the Society, based in Honesdale, Pa., is seeking to explain not only its own history but to show why an appreciation for Wayne County’s past is so important, both in terms of looking back and in considering how our present came to be and where we as a community hope to be in generations ahead.

Its historians, always so active in digging treasures from the chronicles of time recording the county’s history in general, and seeing each old building, stone wall and meandering byway as evidence of the foundation on which we build our lives, are taking a moment to consider its own story.

100th anniversary plans

Executive Director, Carol H. Dunn, reviewed plans for the 100th anniversary of the WCHS.
• NEW EXHIBIT: Much work has been taking place this winter to prepare the new exhibit, “History of Wayne County in 100 objects.” To be dedicated at the Spring Open House, Saturday, April 22, this grand exhibit is found in the hallway ramp exhibit hall in the commodious 2008 addition, in the back part of the museum.
Dunn, who has been executive director since 2014, was an active volunteer at WCHS for many years, assisting  with exhibits. Retired director Sally Talaga assisted her on the new exhibit. Dunn said that the idea of “100 objects” came from a book published by the Smithsonian Institution which illustrates American history through a descriptive collection of photographs.

“History of Wayne County in 100 objects” consists of a wide array of artifacts, from art to needlework, hardware to glassware, printed text such as a copy of Wayne County’s first newspaper to Honesdale’s very first telephone. There’s a napkin from the ill-fated Irving Cliff Hotel, which burned down in 1889 just prior to its opening. Surveying equipment from Jason Torrey, who laid out much of Honesdale in the 1820’s, is shown. Copies of Highlights for Children Magazine, from 1946 (the year of its founding) and 2017, are included.

Many people have loaned objects for this exhibit, which is expected to be kept up for at least two years.
Descriptive text explains each object.

Dunn stated that they attempted to incorporate all geographic areas of Wayne County. “Many will provoke astonishment,” she said of the sometimes unusual and rare artifacts on display.

BOOK: To help preserve the 100-year history of the WCHS, a special souvenir book is being published and is expected to be available in time to sell at the Spring Open House. Wayne County Historian Peter W. Becker wrote an article on the Society’s history, which is richly illustrated. A major portion of the book is devoted to the exhibit, “History of Wayne County in 100 objects” with pictures taken by Alan Kehoe of each item, with the descriptive text alongside.

CONTEST: Starting January 1, the public has been welcome to vote on their favorite historic property in Wayne County, Pa. for the 2017 Centennial Historic Preservation Award. This annual award has been presented since 1993. A committee selected 11 of the past award recipients for this contest, to choose the favorite, most beloved and significant building in the county. Votes are taken by paper ballot and dropped off/mailed to WCHS; online on Facebook and through the WCHS website. The winner will be announced and honored at a ceremony on October 21, 2017 at the main museum.

CENTENNIAL TRAIN RIDE: On Train Day, May 20, there is a special “Centennial Run” being planned for the Stourbridge Line train excursions. Historical commentary will be provided on board, telling of Wayne County’s amazing and unique role in the history of American railroading.

SYMPOSIUM: Society Trustee Juan Espino has been coordinating a special, day-long symposium to discuss the history of Wayne County, Pa. and that of the WCHS. Entitled “Celebrating our First 100 Years,” the event is planned for Saturday, June 24 from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Dorflinger Factory Museum in White Mills. Lisa Mazzarella, producer of the Our Town Series on WVIA-TV, is the guest moderator.

These are the plans for a series of panel discussions (confirmed speakers are listed; others may be added):

People Who Made Wayne County Great (Albert G. Rutherford) Wayne County’s Rich Agricultural Heritage (Linda Lee) The Banking Industry in Wayne County, the Engine Supporting our Local Economy (Mark Graziadio, Lewis J. Critelli, Gary C. Beilman) Wayne County Industrial Heritage: Transportation, The Silk Mills and The Glass Industry (Grant Genzlinger, Kurt Reed) The Growth of Tourism and The Hospitality Industry in Wayne County (Justin Gunslinger, Leonard & Margaret Schwartz) Defending our Nation (Thomas Virgilio, Sally Talaga, Kim Erickson, Scott Ogdeen, Clayton Crum, Maria A. Mammone, Don Wilmont) A History of The Wayne County Historical Society (Peter W. Becker).

The fee to attend the symposium is $40.00 (or $35.00 for WCHS members and $25.00 for students). The fee includes breakfast and lunch.

More information about the Wayne County Historical Society is available at the main museum, 810 Main St., Honesdale, Pa.; by calling 570-253-3240; online at www.waynehistorypa.org and on Facebook.

[Editor’s note: More information on the Wayne County Historical Society’s progress is found in an expanded version of this story in the special, annual “Soundings” supplement in The News Eagle, in the Saturday, March 25 edition.]