Oakfield museum to open amid new displays

Apr 11, 2012

Oakfield museum 1

Oakfield museum 1

HISTORICAL TRIBUTE: Darlene Warner, left, a member of the Oakfield Historical Society, and president Laurie Nanni arrange items for the society's spring opening on Saturday at its new home in the Seymour-Reed house at 7 Maple Ave., Oakfield. Here, they look at a board containing the names of all local residents who served in World War II. (Virginia Kropf/Daily News)

 
 

Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 12:13 am | Updated: 12:33 am, Wed Apr 11, 2012.

OAKFIELD — History is coming alive in Oakfield, thanks to the efforts of the Oakfield Historical Society.

Members have been working steadily for months to create displays of historical memorabilia, which the public will have an opportunity to view during the Society’s spring opening on Saturday.

The Historical Society, located in the former Seymour-Reed mansion at 7 Maple Ave., will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and thereafter on the first Saturday and the last three Sundays of each month throughout the summer.

Society president Laurie Nanni and board member Darlene Warner are particularly excited about a new diarama depicting the Indian Fort Tegataineaaghue (meaning double fortified town), which is still in existance today on private land outside Oakfield.

According to town historican Steve Krupp, the 13th century fort had the largest concentration of Indians in New York state at the time. It was discovered in 1788 by the Rev. Samuel Kirkland, a missionary to the Senecas.

For the opening event, the Tonawanda Reservation Historical Society has loaned the museum its collection of cornhusk dolls, a lacross stick and a snow snake (a piece of wood used in a winter game).

A World War II Room will showcase a display of wartime memorabilia from local residents, as well as a board with all the names of local residents who served in the war.

‘‘We are excited about this board,’’ Nanni said. ‘‘It used to stand in the park, but has not been seen by the public since 1945.’’

Fires in Oakfield will also be a focus of the museum’s spring opening.

One room is dedicated to firefighting in the village. After a woman once called to say her house was on fire and hung up, a system was devised to inform residents what information was needed when reporting a fire. Part of the exhibit is a map of Genesee County developed in 1951 by Everett Heye so all mutual aid fire companies could quickly locate a fire.

At 1 p.m. the Oakfield Volunteer Fire Company will demonstrate its 1863 pumper, which was used in five of Oakfield's 11 fires.

Warner has written a book called Main Street Ablaze, documenting all the fires which have hit Main Street since 1848 through the last one at the four corners on 1985.

Copies of the book will be available for sale, as will copies of Oakfield as We Knew It, compiled by the Historical Society.

Warner said many of the businesses on Main Street survived three or more fires and still rebuilt. The oldest building in the village is 131 years old, and also survived three fires.

This is the Historical Society's second year to be open to the public in its new headquarters.

They formerly housed a few artifacts in a building on Main Street, near the Post Office, to see if the public would be interested in a museum, Warner said.

They were, and in 2009, the c.1891 home was purchased from Mike and Diane Zakes. The Society worked on it during 2010 and opened for the first time in 2011.

Hot dogs, hamburgers and beverages will be available on Saturday.

The committee asks no one park in the funeral home's lot next door if there is a funeral. In that case, there is ample parking at village lots near the bank, Post Office and Warner's Florist, Warner said.