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    The Saline County Historical Society

    When I first started managing the Saline County MOGenWeb Project, I searched long and hard for any information about the Saline County Historical Society. Finding nothing I came to the erroneous conclusion that there wasn’t one — an assumption that was corrected by a nice lady at the Marshall Public Library. She told me that not only was there a county historical society, it was pretty much based in the library. Makes sense — but why such a secret?

    Since I don’t actually live in Saline County, and Marshall is just far enough away to make a day trip difficult, I was never able to follow up on this “Secret Society,” instead referring inquiries about the SCHS to the Genealogy Department at the library.

    The article about the SCHS lawsuit against the Marshall Public Library made me wonder again what was up — especially the little tidbit about the fact that the Society is closed to new members — and this letter to the editor from Betty Sue Simonson in response to the original article raised a lot more questions than it answered.

    Why would a historical society be closed to new members? This seems quite strange. As the older members retire or pass on, new, younger ones are needed to continue the work, and every other genealogical or historical society that I’ve been in contact with seems to understand and embrace this concept.

    With the paperwork filing errors noted in the article, it appears that organization has been a challenge for this society for a long time, not to mention a permanent home. Ms. Simonson mentions a museum is in the works, but no information about that, or meetings, or who the officers are, seems to be forthcoming from Society representatives.

    I was particularly intrigued by Ms. Simonson’s narrative about the telephone call she received in response to her letters to the editor. It reminded me of someone who used to email me quite frequently — also from Saline County — with long, drawn out missives about her family and how important they were and, therefore, she also was quite important. To make sure I understood this, she peppered her messages with plenty of question marks (??????????????????????????) and exclamation points (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). She never did want to actually contribute to the project. Thankfully, she’s found other things to do because I haven’t heard from her in a few years.

    I’m sure there’s a lot more to this situation between the society and the library that only those directly involved would be privy to. But on the face of it, it sure seems that, if these records are to actually be made available to the public, they need to remain at the library.

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