TROY — One local organization, known for bringing pearls of wisdom through collections from the past, is celebrating its golden anniversary this year.
The Troy Historical Society began in 1965 with an organizational meeting at the Troy-Miami County Public Library, which was then located in the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center.
THS President Judy Deeter said the collection at the historical society has grown over the years and now includes a bit of everything, including photographs, books, oral histories, records the early members collected of births and deaths and the census.
“Years ago, they did a lot collecting artifacts,” she said. “We work very closely with the Overfield Tavern Museum. Today, we are partners in operating the library. We have volunteers who come in here and do work projects for the library. We get people all over the world here.”
One of the most unique books is the collection of Hobartizer publications, which will turn 100 in 2016, yearbooks from Troy High School and purple and white letterman sweaters.
Juda Moyer was the archivist from 1992-2004. She had always been interested in researching her and her husband’s family history, which she started doing in 1972.
In 1992, I heard the History Room at the Troy Hayner Cultural Center was going to need an archivist, so I applied and got the job. At that point in time it was part-time.”
“Word spread that we liked to help people and that we were good at what we did,” she said. “We had a lot of return patrons and eventually were able to add a part-time assistant, so we made quite a lot of advance in that time period.”
During Moyer’s tenure, the historical society helped Applebee’s and Bob Evans to find historical photographs from Troy to put up in the restaurants when they moved into Troy, which she described as being one of the most fun
“We met a lot of interesting people and heard a lot of fascinating stories,” she said.
Many of those fascinating stories have made their way around the world. In addition to many of the people from around the region and state who come to the Troy Historical Society, Deeter shared how people from outside the United States contact the historical society.
“One of the most famous stories is that the first retail scan in the world was done at the Marsh in Troy,” she said. “That lead to a phone call from a man in England who is writing a book and asked for information regarding that history.”
Troy History Library Archivist Patrick Kennedy has been with the library for 11 years and often works with visitors using the library’s services or students learning about Troy’s history.
“One of our biggest things, which is a favorite for a lot of people, is the photographs,” he said. “They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s neat to look at those old pictures of Troy whether they’re back in the 19th century or mid-20th century or see some of the buildings that are still there. You can see how some of the businesses have changed or what’s around them have changed.”
As a self-described map lover, Kennedy said the library has a lot of old plat maps for the area and it’s fun to look at those and see who’s on the land or how the city of Troy has changed.
The city had a boom in the population in the 1950s, so much so that estimates during the sesquicentennial celebration in 1964 averaged the population in Troy would be 35,000 by 1980 or 1981.
“Troy’s had a steady growth for a long time. It was a relatively small town up until the 1950s it (the population) was even 15,000 or so and it maintained 18,000-20,000 for a number of years when I was growing up,” Kennedy said. “It’s really been the last five to 10 years where it’s taken a jump again. It’s now about 25,000.”
While Kennedy teaches in the present-day, some members of THS like to throw it back. Member and local historian Terry Purke has taught local history in Troy since returning to Ohio in 1992, with a special focus on pioneer life.
“In the capacity of doing that research, I have utilized early newspapers that were published in Troy,” he said. “Some of those contained very early reminisces of the early pioneers which they would describe what the country was first like when they came out here, who their neighbors were, and their relationships with the native people and so on.”
He described the society as offering tremendous value to the community by serving as the go-to group to find out the history of a building or area in the community. Purke uses his research in this manner to explain the historical significance of a building that whenever a change to the area or building is proposed.
“This is one of the good things that an effective historical society can do is to be that voice for preservation of significant things in our past. It’s primary role is that of education of people in the community. I can’t tell you how many people come in the local history library or one of the museums, have taken an interest.”
Obviously everyone feels that their hometown is unique, but for the size of Troy, Kennedy said the city has so many unique things about it.
“People were so civically-minded and just seemed to take pride in Troy,” he said. “Brukner Nature Center, WACO, they just wanted to leave Troy as a better place. It was so neat because they did it willingly from their surplus. They weren’t coerced. That’s one of the things I really like.”
Deeter stressed the importance of people knowing the story of the town where they live.
“Everyone needs a heritage to link on to,” she said. “If you don’t have a heritage … we were set up to educate about Troy and tell the story and it’s all involved in history and heritage.”
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Troydailynews.