Museum preserves Clyde history

CLYDE – The Clyde Museum has opened for the season, with regular hours 1-4 p.m. every Thursday through September. Curator Brenda Stultz and members of the Clyde Heritage League spent the winter months cleaning and rearranging the museum’s collection so people who have visited before can see different items.

“We refurbished our natural history case, which includes a coyote, and we have been able to, over the course of the off-season, bring things out of storage to rotate. We have been blessed with many gifts over the year,” Stultz said.

The donations have included documents, photos, furniture, fire department memorabilia and military items. The late Ralph Rogers donated his U.S. Navy uniform and other keepsakes to the museum. Of special interest is a copy of a daguerreotype of James B. McPherson, donated by Jules Martino of Oregon.

At the Heritage League’s annual meeting earlier this year, members were treated to a program by Sgt. Joshua Mann. He is the son of the late Richard Mann, who wrote “The Buckeye Vanguard: The 49th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865.” Now serving as historian for the Ohio National Guard, Joshua Mann displayed a collection of ONG uniforms and spoke about local hero Rodger Young, a member of the Ohio National Guard who died in World War II.

Born in Tiffin, Young grew up in Green Springs. He was killed in combat in the Solomon Islands July 31, 1943, making 2013 the 70th anniversary of his death.

Stultz has set up an exhibit table featuring Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Young and his connections to Tiffin, Green Springs, Clyde and Fremont. Young is buried in Clyde’s McPherson Cemetery.

Stultz said she spent five years sorting and cleaning artifacts from the years when the museum was located in Clyde Public Library. They had been hastily stored in Heritage Hall and needed special attention to make them suitable for viewing.

“We were able to acquire four new showcases, which enabled us to create some new exhibits as well as protect our exhibits,” Stultz said.

One of the new cases holds vintage carpentry tools and artifacts related to area lumber companies and wood workers.

A second case is filled with items related to the Clyde Fire Department. Assistant curator Norm Rogers worked for the fire department from 1960-1990. He contributed items he had saved over the years, including rosters and antique equipment.

A third case is devoted to Whirlpool. Records show the plant originally housed two companies Bendix and Clyde Porcelain Steel. They merged to become Whirlpool in 1952.

The museum also has a 1902 washing machine and items manufactured at the Federal Washboard Co. of Tiffin.

A fourth showcase correlates to three hour-long family programs the third Thursday of June, July and August. With the summer series, Stultz said she and her volunteers try to rotate the museum’s showcase exhibits to coordinate with the program and to display interesting items that cannot be on continuous exhibit.

“We normally hold our programs outside due to space limitations, but they are held rain or shine,” Stultz said. “The goal of the programs is to teach some Clyde history with hands-on activities.”

Participants are asked to call ahead so enough supplies and refreshments are available, and parents are expected to accompany pre-school children. Stultz said she makes an effort to provide activities that tie in with local history and the theme of the event. This year’s theme, “The Creative Side of Clyde,” highlights Clyde’s connections with the arts.

“Facilitators will be here at stations to help participants create,” Stultz said.

June is to feature the visual arts, such as weaving, needlework, painting, clay, chalk, carving and other media. Clyde was home to artists Karl Anderson (brother of author Sherwood Anderson), John B. Tichenor and George White, as well as two cartoonists, James Wales and Lee Stanley.

Clyde’s Hughes Granite and Marble company crafted a number of significant monuments and sculptures in the U.S., including the William Harvey Gibson monument in downtown Tiffin.

“Also, there was a very active Clyde Art Club from 1964-69. One of the leaders is a lifetime member of Clyde Heritage League and she will be here – Dorothy Cox,” Stultz said.

The club often had painting parties and “clothesline” art shows. The museum has a collection of scrapbooks with photos and clippings of the club’s activities.

Plans for the music programming in July have not been finalized, but Stultz hopes to bring in various instruments or to have participants make their own. In August, she will spotlight Clyde’s opera houses and the entertainment they hosted.

“I want to draw attention to the Ames Publishing House, which was one of the first publishing houses of plays in the East. I guess the most famous play that was published there was ‘The Spy of Atlanta,’ which is the story about James McPherson,” Stultz said.

In addition to play scripts, the company also sold theatrical makeup, wigs and other supplies. Stultz said she likes to connect the past with something that still exists. Local residents tend to take their town for granted and downplay its contributions to the larger world.

“They’ve just forgotten this stuff,” she said.

The museum gift shop is stocked with Clyde history books, T-shirts, building miniatures, cook books and other merchandise for sale.

Stultz also has made up “artifact bingo” cards. Guests can play by looking for the items whose pictures appear on the cards.