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Smicksburg Heritage Society pays tribute to decades past

April 30, 2012

Lynn Duncan, director of the Smicksburg Heritage Society's museum, shows a window from the former post office in the town. (Dan Long/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

SMICKSBURG — The Smicksburg Heritage Society's museum showcases what life was like in the early 20th century.

The museum has a strong focus on the 1930s and 1940s, which provides a different perspective compared to many museums that tend to focus on the Victorian era.

"There was no colonial period (in Smicksburg); they (settlers) didn't come out here until afterwards, so in 1820 or so, then it really started to get settled," said Lynn Duncan, museum director.

The society board members learned that Smicksburg citizens had the most interest in the 1930s and 1940s, because that’s the time frame when the older generation fondly remembers the small town.

The Heritage Society began with just the history of Smicksburg, but has expanded to represent the four Mahoning Townships in Indiana County.

Because Smicksburg is a small, tight-knit town with a population of just 64, that fact has made it easier to obtain artifacts and antidotes from history.

"It is easier because the people around all know each other, and the families know each other," Duncan said.

As a result, most of the artifacts have been donated by local citizens.
Duncan believes that the Heritage Society is important to the small town.

"People can look back and see what life was like and see the past and to preserve it instead of having it all end up in the dump," she said.

Today, Smicksburg is a community that has a strong focus on antiques, crafts and items of historic nature, so a heritage society has fit nicely into the fabric of the town.

A Smicksburg museum would not be complete if it didn't recognize the Amish, who are very instrumental in the small town. There are specific exhibits and displays dedicated to Amish artifacts.

The museum also has military gear and literature from World War II; old farm equipment; a recreation of a 1930/40s kitchen; a recreation of a living room; old toys; maps; hospital equipment; a postmaster's window; and much more.

Also, it recently added a display of old chairs called "Sit on It" and a display showcasing photographs of old school houses.

In the future, the museum plans an exhibit dedicated to Native Americans in the area to show their history before the 20th century. There will be also an exhibit on dolls and clothing.

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