The Jackson County Historical Society was founded through the Jackson County Improvement Council on March 31, 1969.
The objective of the JCHS is to discover, procure, preserve, and publish whatever may relate to Jackson County’s natural, traditional, civic, military, literary, and genealogical history of interest to this and future generations; as well as, to encourage the study of and research into the archaeology, genealogy, sociology, and other matters of history of this area.
According to the JCHS preamble of their constitution, there is a personal and patriotic obligation resting upon the citizenship of every community to assemble and preserve its traditions, customs and history.
The JCHS headquarters is located in the basement of the Harrison Building in Ripley. This is where boxes of newspaper clippings, old maps, historical records, Ripley High School yearbooks, and many other items related to the county are stored.
The headquarters is also home to a large salt and pepper shaker collection donated by Jackson County native Col. Carl Robinson, in memory of his mother who collected them as a hobby. Robinson added to his mother’s collection as he traveled the world while in the military.
Upon Robinson’s passing, he left a donation and the collection of salt and pepper shakers to the JCHS with the stipulation that they must remain in Ripley.
For those seeking information on Jackson County heritage, the society has an extensive library of historical documents they have published for research use that are available at the Jackson County Public Libraries.
Two of the books available for public use at the libraries are titled, “Jackson County West Virginia Past and Present.” The first book was compiled and published in 1990 and the other one in 2012.
They contain information on Jackson County families, historical buildings, local cemeteries, events that happened in the county, as well as photos and articles written about Jackson County.
Throughout the years the JCHS has published the census of Jackson County, marriage and death records, and other items that are now easily accessed on the internet.
Each year the JCHS nominates a History Hero, someone they feel has been an asset to preserving the history of Jackson County. This year’s nominee was Mike McGrew.
McGrew was recognized as a West Virginia History Hero during West Virginia History Day at the Legislature event on Feb. 21 at the Culture Center in Charleston. He has served on the JCHS board of directors for many years and was a major contributor to both of the society’s publications.
“There have been so many people who have contributed to the success of this society over the years,” Maxine Landfried said.
Landfried is a member of the JCHS who has been working on adding items to the JCHS website at www.jchswv.org. The site contains information on the society, links to local obituaries, county history, articles on the civil war relating to Jackson County, and information on the Washington Western Lands Museum in Ravenswood.
In an old JCHS newsletter dated December 1997, minutes from meetings during the seventies listed activities and information that was discussed throughout the decade.
An excerpt from 1970 details a discussion on the use of a building in Ravenswood connected with Lock No. 22 to use the second floor and balcony as a museum.
In 1971 the need for libraries in Ripley and Ravenswood with space for the JCHS collection of of books, papers, and films was discussed.
Repairs needed and donations being made to the museum were the topic of the 1972 and 1973 minutes.
In 1974 the opening date for the Ripley Library was on the agenda.
The placement of markers at some of the historical locations in the county was discussed in 1975.
Spots were explored for the local radio station in Ravenswood in 1976.
In 1977, funding for a coloring book on Jackson County for young children was the topic of conversation.
The old time school house at Cedar Lakes and the moving of the Statts Mills Bridge were on the docket for discussion in 1978 and in 1979 an article was listed as running in the Herald about Statts Mills being placed on the National Register of Historical Places.
“I think through the years we have preserved a lot of history that probably would have been lost,” JCHS charter member Dallas Skeen said. “I hope that we can continue to preserve the history of this county by encouraging others in the community to join the JCHS and become part of the legacy this county will leave to future generations.”
Current officers of the society are President, Marjie Parsons, Vice President and charter member, Dallas Skeen, Secretary, Nancy Burford, and Treasurer, Frank Crum.
The JCHS meets at their headquarters in the Harrison building at 2 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month. The meetings are open to the public and anyone interested in preserving the history of Jackson County is encouraged to attend.
The Jackson County Public Library in Ripley will be hosting a 50 year anniversary celebration for the JCHS at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. Guest speaker Greg Carroll, a retiree from the WV Archives and History Commission, will be presenting a workshop on Native American and Civil War genealogy. Everyone is welcome to attend.
For more information on the society visit the website at www.jchswv.org or anyone interested in becoming a member is encouraged to attend a Sunday meeting.