Quincy News

Preserving history is their task

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 14, 2019 12:01 am

MENDON, Ill. -- Sara Husemann was busy Sunday afternoon, carefully sorting through a collection of old pictures connected with one-room schools from long ago in Adams County.

Husemann frequently smiled while looking through the dozens of photos, and at times would even talk aloud to herself. Her mind was busy taking a stroll down memory lane.

Not only did the black-and-white remembrances rekindle thoughts of days and years from long ago in Adams County, they punctuated the importance of what Husemann was doing.

"I'm the last of a generation that went to a one-room school," said Husemann, 85, a retired teacher dedicated to preserving the past for the future.

Husemann, of Paloma, is part of the Adams County Retired Teachers organization. She was on hand Sunday afternoon sorting, cataloguing -- and remembering.

Husemann was busy working in the one-room school building close to the entrance of the Adams County Fairgrounds. The school building is nestled next to the Lewis Round Barn, log cabin and print shop, all a part of the ongoing preservation work coordinated by the local Old Tyme Association, a group of about 100 dedicated to keeping the past alive.

The Old Tyme Association and the Adams County Retired Teachers group work hand-in-hand, dedicating their time and talents to preserve local history.

The Round Barn and nearby buildings are open 1 to 5 p.m. the second Sunday of each month May through October, plus other selected dates for various clubs and organizations, including school children. A group of 200 school kids from Adams County recently toured the sites.

"At one time, there were about 200 one-room schools in the county," Husemann said.

Making sure knowledge like that remains alive for future generations is important to Husemann, but she knows that task will become more challenging with each passing page of the calendar.

"Each year, there are fewer of us left," she said.

Jack Mesmer of Quincy was on hand, taking in the two-story Round Barn and its numerous offerings.

"This is preserving history," he said. "You don't see these kind of things anywhere else these days."

Among the treasures inside the Round Barn are a spinning wheel, examples of living, sleeping and laundry quarters from close to -- and in some cases more than -- a century ago, all sorts of antique tools and other apparatuses. There's even a recreation of a general store, which has "more than a thousand items," according to Theresa Bockhold of Quincy, a member of the Old Tyme Association.

The Round Barn is sectioned off in numerous areas on both floors, providing for more than a dozen distinct conversation stations concerning times of long ago. There's also a silo that occupies the center of the barn.

The Round Barn itself is an interesting story. It was originally located northeast of Camp Point near Golden, built more than a century ago.

Moving it to its current site was a two-year process, coordinated by a group of Amish carpenters who took the barn apart, moved it and restored the structure in the early 2000s.

The Round Barn is one of 14 such structures recognized by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The barn was listed in 2003 on the National Register of Historic Places.

"The structure is unique," said David Lewis of Quincy, also an Old Tyme Association member.

Mary Ohnemus is a smiling and gracious host who greets many who visit the Round Barn and its historical partner sites. The Mendon resident is proud of what she and other Old-Tymers are doing, in what is obviously a labor of love.

"People come from all over to see (what is here)," Ohnemus said. "The bottom line is we're helping preserve history."

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