MY WORD: Lots of people contributed to new historical project

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By William Matthews

The Shelby County Historical Society officially opened its new World War II exhibit at its annual picnic on Sunday.

President Sherry Jelsma thanked several members of the Society – Sharon Hackworth, Jim Cleveland, Nancy Hill and Col. Roger Green – for their contributions to the exhibit, which may be seen at two locations: the hometown front in the second floor of the Shelbyville Welcome Center and the military part in the VFW building next to the parking lot adjoining the center. 

Sherry also thanked Barbara Ann Callahan, who “generously loaned her extraordinary collection from Park Place Museum in New Castle for the home front exhibit.”

Visitors will enjoy viewing home front artifacts, including colorful feedsack bags, ration book, steel pennies, and some very original gifts. They will also see a victory garden. By 1945 an estimated 20 million victory gardens produced approximately 20 percent of America’s vegetables. Some canning equipment used during the war effort is also on display.

There is a collection of Shelby County news articles from 1941-45 that refer to the home front and what was happening in Shelbyville and Shelby County. Hill did the research, and Cleveland printed and compiled the book for the exhibit.

In the spotlight at the picnic was the extensive collection of Shelby County arrow points, some more than 10,000 years old, projectile points, pottery shards, clay pipes and stone, and flint hand tools.

The collection was donated to the society by Shelbyville native Elliott Igleheart. The society is making arrangements for a UK anthropology team to date the artifacts, place them in the appropriate culture and catalog them.

Two professors from the UK anthropology department and an archeologist from the Kentucky Heritage Council were extremely “excited” about the collection.

To meet the projected $2,000 charge by UK to catalog and process the collection, the society was pleased to receive a challenge grant of $1,000 from Historic Kentucky, owned by Mae Peniston and me.

The challenge was answered by Bland B. Matthews, who, along with his wife, Capt. Marci Matthews, met the challenge with a gift of $1,000 to the society.

Jelsma announced also that the society would be naming one of the rooms in the museum, and placing a plaque, in honor of my daughter, the late Lisa G. Matthews, who became an early advocate for a museum when she returned to Shelbyville in 2002.

Jelsma recognized member Sanda Jones for her contribution in developing a new Web site for the society. She coordinated her work with Sherry Curtsinger and her Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP).


William Matthews, an author, publisher and historian, lives in Shelbyville.