Historical society announces continuation of museum search, learns about civil war submarine at annual meeting

Jarrod Schoenecker

Jarrod Schoenecker photo

George Romano presents to members attending the Montgomery Historical Society’s annual meeting about the submarine H.L. Hunley on Jan. 31 at the Rustic Farmer on Main.

The search for a museum space to display and store items for the Montgomery Historical Society (MHS) continues. This was one of the messages at their annual meeting at the Rustic Farmer on Main on Jan. 31.

MHS has been looking for an affordable museum space for some time and, as of recent, it appeared a feasible agreement would be made with Suel Printing Company to purchase the Montgomery Messenger building. However, MHS announced that the needed repair and other costs associated with being able to open a museum was not currently financially feasible and they are not continuing to pursue that as an option in their current state.

A little under $64,000 has been raised so far for their building fund. Recently, they put $55,000 of that into a certificate of deposit to earn a better interest rate on the funds until they can use them for their intended purpose.

Palmer Bus in Montgomery continues to donate space to hold the MHS’ steam engine that was refurbished. Bob Janovsky, who recently passed away, was recognized for his dedication and help in restoring and maintaining the steam engine. With Janovsky gone, the MHS is looking for others to help fill the void in regard to the steam engine.

Other items are still being stored at various members’ properties. MHS’ 2023 President Dan Roberts said that they are still looking for someone to take on the role of a collection manager to properly document the items they have, including where they are stored and who has them, and to make a standard process for documenting items when they are received by the MHS.

Ed Keogh continues to conduct video interviews of older individuals that wish to share their experiences in the oral history project to preserve knowledge about Montgomery’s history.   Keogh said, “The time to do it is now while they are still here. Once they pass, the history is lost.”

The MHS is also seeking out new ideas for their monthly rotating exhibit at the Montgomery Public Library. They are also open to exhibits on loan for this. If you have any ideas for this, please contact Ruth Viskocil at 507-364-5660.

Elections were held and the following board positions were voted in: Jim Mladek for president, Dan Roberts for vice president, Jean Keogh as secretary, and Paula Cihla-Sexton as trustee.

Roberts said that membership has taken a slow decline. MHS had 75 members in 2023, which was down one from the previous year.

Anyone interested in future board positions, being on a committee, becoming a member, knows or is someone who would like to participate in the oral history project, or interested in helping out with the steam engine, should contact the MHS at montymnhistory@gmail.com.

To conclude the annual meeting, George Romano of Rochester, Minn., gave an in-depth presentation on the civil war submarine H.L. Hunley, which was the first combat submarine to sink a warship. It was left undiscovered near Charleston, S.C., from Feb. 17, 1864, when it was sunk, until May 1995. The submarine was raised in August 2000 and is in the process of being preserved.

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