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Museum celebrates anniversary with Lincoln

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By Marty Finley

 

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                                                        By MARTY FINLEY                                                                        mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com HARDIN COUNTY – The building at the intersection of 31W and North Mulberry Street was designed as a post office in the 1930s, but since 2003, it has served as a touchstone for Hardin County’s past. The Hardin County History Museum celebrated its fifth anniversary Sunday afternoon with the unveiling of two interpretative marker recognizing Abraham Lincoln’s Kentucky roots. A number of local officials representing county and city government, as well as the tourism bureau and the chamber of commerce, were on hand to assist the museum and its board members celebrate the moment. “We’re lucky to get both of these,” said local historian Mary Jo Jones, referring to the two Lincoln markers, which the county received through a grant from the Lincoln Bicentennial commission. One marker features a written summary and two maps illustrating Lincoln’s family and their trail through the state, while another explains Lincoln’s Hardin County connections. Elizabethtown City Councilman said the museum is a capsule for the county's heritage.  “There’s just a lot of stories to be told that we try to tell,” he said. Hardin County Clerk Kenny Tabb said the county was long overdue for the museum, with the size and history of the county and the number of historic figures that passed through it over the years. “We needed a place to showcase the past, and we couldn’t ask for a better facility,” Tabb said. The facility was a dream fulfilled for the Hardin County Historical Society in 2002 when the public library changed their location to St. John Road and vacated the building, leading a group that would become the board to approach the Fiscal Court about opening the museum. With its approval, more than a year of work began, Walker said, as they cleaned the building up, installed walls and collected items for display. Walker said a lot of private donations have been loaned to the museum from people’s personal collections, such as a sundry of items the museum has received from one man to recreate a general store. The group also has been supported by a number of state agencies, including the Kentucky Historical Society and the Arts Council. Susan McCrobie, one of the museum's board members, said the museum is partnering with the Arts Council to present “Abraham Lincoln in Song” in February to honor the bicentennial, with a folk storyteller singing songs at the Pritchard Community Center. McCrobie said it’s the fourth program they’ve done, and all have been free to the public. The museum also honors Lincoln with his very own theater, airing a video which can now be viewed online, McCrobie said. And the museum is in the process of acquiring a grant to air a video explaining Lincoln’s relationship with Confederate officer, and Bardstown native, Benjamin Hardin Helm and the Helm family. “We’re all about Lincoln,” she said. But the museum is about to shift its focus, she said, onto the Civil Car era and how Hardin County played a role in that infamous battle. She said other sites, like Gettysburg, are well established and they want to do what they can to show Hardin County’s influence. The museum also plans to hire its first paid worker part-time, and plans to extend the museum’s hours. Tabb said the volunteers deserve the credit for the progress of the museum. “Without the volunteers, none of this would have been possible,” he said.   Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762