OAKFIELD – The last time the Oakfield Historical Society Museum was opened was on December 7, 2019.
The story, however, is still there.
“We have done a lot of research on families,” said Laurie Nanni, president of the Historical Society. “With the downtime, a lot of people got interested in their ancestry.”
It helped keep the members busy.
Plus, it gave members more time to work on museum exhibits, tours, and books on Oakfield’s rich history.
It was all on display on Saturday as the museum was finally opened to the public following the COVID-induced layoff.
Members were obviously delighted with the participation and the chance to show off the new screens.
When was the decision to open made?
“Two weeks ago,” Nanni said with a laugh. “We saw the (COVID) numbers go down and we had the screens ready to go.”
It will be short-lived, however, as the museum will only be open once a month on Saturdays until it closes for winter in December.
The company bought the house at 7 Maple Avenue in 1998 and paid off the mortgage in eight years.
The two-story building houses five rooms filled with artifacts, from rich Native American history to two rooms dedicated to the many Oakfield residents who served in the war.
Bill Chase, secretary, spent Saturday showing off the collection of Native American artifacts, as well as his new book, “The Oakfield Fort: Digging Deeper,” which chronicles the lives of native people living in western New York.
“The Native Americans of the 1200s had a major settlement here,” said Chase. “Fort Oakfield was at the end of what is now Maple Avenue. “
Chase also showed how Indians used thorns from tree branches to create tattoos, a long and painful process.
In another piece, Dar Warner detailed the history of Oakfield businesses, including that of the Madonia brothers, who owned a bakery and meat business.
Their family eventually moved their businesses but remains linked to Oakfield.
“The family came back and they donated and gave us a lot of information,” Warner said.
The second floor of the museum is dedicated to war and those who fought.
The names of all of the Oakfield men who served in WWII line the wall that leads up the stairs.
Nanni said that one of the most interesting stories is that of Fred Glor.
Glor was a gunner on a bombing mission over Greece during World War II. The B-17 Flying Fortress was shot down and crashed on the island of Corfu.
“The whole survived and was the only unit to survive a crash,” Nanni said.
With the enemy all around, a group of locals quickly arrived, taking the parachutes from the plane and spreading out five of them and taking five more.
They took the men away and dressed them in native clothes, taking their uniforms and running them down a stream.
The men were in hiding for about four months.
Glor, Nanni said, returned to Corfu in 1988, visiting people who had helped him, including a woman who was hoeing a field at the site of the original crash.
Nanni said the museum will not have fixed hours from now on and more information will be posted on the company’s website and Facebook page.