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Historical Society going strong after third start
May 1, 2019

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Boardman resident Mark Luke will present "The History of Memorial Day" on Saturday, May 11, at 10 a.m. at the Boardman Library. The event is sponsored by the Boardman Historical Society and is free and open to the public.

"What is Memorial Day? Who started it and when? Come to the lecture and learn the answers," said Boardman Historical Society (BHS) co-president Rick Shale.

The BHS hosts monthly events with special guest speakers who cover topics of local interest. They cover a wide arrange of topics that are presented at the Boardman Library where the public is welcome to attend. The society meets every second Saturday of the month from September through May at 10 a.m. in the library. Visitors, new members, and guests are always welcomed.

May's Speaker, Luke, is a Boardman graduate and longtime resident of Boardman Township. He serves in the Boardman Civic Association and the Boardman Community Foundation and for 14 years, has served as master of ceremonies for the Boardman Kiwanis Memorial Day service.

As for the history of the Boardman Historical Society itself, it is said to be traced back to 1876, 1964, or 2017. In all three cases, one would be correct. The BHS has been started three times. The first recorded start can be traced to a brief history on the society written by Bernice Simon, according to Shale. He said in that writing there is mention of an old photograph of the society's 50th anniversary that was labeled "Boardman Historical Society 1876-1926."

"The Society held an annual picnic in the summer of 1927," Shale said. "It appears that the group held only one meeting per year, which may have been simply a social gathering of pioneer Boardman families. The Society appears to have gone dormant and has left little or no historical record from the late 1920s to the 1960s."

On Jan. 20, 1964, Sahel said the Boardman Historical Society held what the minutes call their first meeting. It was held at Boardman High School, and George Bohn, longtime Boardman educator, was elected president. This group appears to be the first to create a legal standing for the organization. They incorporated, established their non-profit 501 c (3) status with the Internal Revenue Service, and wrote a constitution and by-laws.

The Boardman Historical Society remained active for most of the next three decades. For about two decades Patsy Anne and Don Zabel provided the leadership for the group, but by 2015 the membership had dwindled, and the Society had become nearly defunct. After the death of her husband Don and the loss of several other officers and members, Patsy Ann Zabel knew that she could not continue to maintain the organization without some help.

In late 2016 and early 2017, three Boardman residents, Deborah Liptak, Richard Scarsella, and Shale, held meetings with Patsy Anne Zabel to see what could be done to reactivate the Boardman Historical Society. When Zabel died in the spring of 2017, this three-person ad hoc group did not know where to turn. However, through contact with Zabel's children, the group was able to move forward.

"Attorney Bob Fulton offered to donate his legal services to the Historical Society," Shale said. "He verified our legal status with the state and the IRS, drafted an updated Code of Regulations, and helped us discover a few former members of the Boardman Historical Society. The group, now numbering seven, formed a new Board of Directors, elected officers, and planned a speaker series, which began in October 2017."

Today, Liptak and Shale currently serve as co-presidents with other officers and directors including Richard Scarsella, Dona Hammond, Jerry Armbrecht, and Bob Fulton. Today the society has roughly two dozen active members.

The BHS does have a small collection of historic artifacts including, furniture, photos, old maps, paintings, eyeglasses, arrowheads, a spinning wheel, a musket, tools, and many small objects of curiosity. These are housed in the historic Detchon House in Boardman Park's Historic Village.

"Unfortunately, at this time the display needs a lot of work, and we do not have enough volunteers to do this or serve as tour guides, so the collection is not currently available," Shale said.

At the recent Boardman Rotary Pancake breakfast held annually in Boardman Park, Shale said the society had a display table with historic photos, a few old tools and maps, and a selection of old Boardman High School yearbooks that drew a lot of interest.

The key to keeping any organization going is a hearty, active membership roster. Shale said the dues are a very modest $10 per year. One can join by sending a check for that amount, payable to the Boardman Historical Society along with contact information (including a phone number and an email address if possible) to Rick Shale, 128 Danbury Dr., Boardman, OH 44512 or by attending one of our meetings (the next one will be in September) and paying in person.

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