EATON — The Preble County Historical Society held its first Living History Event on Saturday, Sept. 14. The event was held at the Historical Society’s grounds located at 7693 Swartsel Rd.
Vendors performed demonstrations of a number of period-specific processes during the event, including butter churning, candle dipping, fireplace cooking, carding of wool, and chair caning. Food vendors were also available, and several homemade quilts were auctioned to benefit Preble County nonprofits.
Misti Spillman, executive director of the Historical Society, said the idea for the event came from board member Pam Barr, who is also a member of the Preble County chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. DAR members also made the quilts being auctioned.
“We wanted to do something where kids could come and see demonstrations and learn about the colonial period,” Spillman said. “Like a tiny little Colonial Williamsburg. Pam was the one who spear-headed it, and of course I was onboard because I love anything having to do with history.”
Groups collaborating on the event included the Preble County Council on Aging, YWCA, Preble County Arts Association, Preble Shawnee FFA, Sons of the American Revolution, and the Preble County District Library, according to Spillman.
“It was really a neat way to not only get the kids and families involved, but to get the other nonprofilts in Preble County to collaborate with each other,” Spillman said. “It’s kind of like a big open house for us, and it definitely fits in with our mission of preserving the history of Preble County, and also promoting it.”
The Preble County Historical Society boasts about 230 members, and occupies a property comprising 255 acres off Ohio 122, just north of Gratis. The property was donated by Sarah Swartsel in 1971.
“That makes us really unique, because most historical societies are located in one building downtown,” Spillman said.
The most important part of the Historical Society’s mission, Spillman said, is promoting the importance of local history.
“Local history is every bit as important as Ohio history or American history,” Spillman said. “It’s important to learn about your own history as well as branching out. I like to think of it as ‘history in your backyard.’”
Spillman’s favorite part of planning the event was that it gave her a chance to share her love of history with others.
“I love doing these kinds of events because I’m just a big history buff,” Spillman said. “I love engaging with families, and especially children, and teaching them about historical happenings. If we don’t instill in people the importance of preserving their community’s history, then it’s not going to be there for future generations.”