By Jean Clark
When Pioneer Hall Museum opened its doors for the summer May 1, the very first visitors were the Seiters from Michigan. The Seiters visit this area often and have been intrigued by the fascinating history of Cumberland County. Having visited the Homesteads in Crossville and reading Doctor Woman of the Cumberlands, they decided to visit Pleasant Hill and the museum to learn more about them.
The museum is open from May through October on Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To make special arrangements for other times, call 277-5313, 277-3111, or 277-5226. Admission is free and contributions are always welcome.
The annual meeting of the Historical Society of the Cumberlands was held May 19 in the Pleasant Hill Community House. Seth Eckelson, a student at Pine View School, presented a DVD about Dr. May Cravath Wharton that was inspired by a visit to the Pioneer Museum. The theme of the 2013 National History Day (NHD) Contest was “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events."
Eckelson felt that the story of Dr. May, a woman doctor in the early 20th century here on the Plateau, was a perfect fit for this theme. Eckelson took photographs of objects and pictures at the museum, interviewed a professor at Tennessee Technological University who was familiar with Dr. May’s history and showed a segment with J. Frank Meisamer of Pleasant Hill, whose father and mother had worked with Dr. May. Candace Corrigan of Murfreesboro recorded a song about Dr. May that she gave Eckelson permission to use on the DVD.
Eckelson entered his DVD in a local NHD contest, where it was judged by professional educators and historians. It was chosen as one of the best to be entered in the state's NHD contest in Nashville. Coming in second at the state level made him eligible to attend the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland in June. This is where the best National History Day projects from across the United States, American Samoa, Guam, international schools and Department of Defense schools in Europe all meet and compete.
Seth’s mother, Rachel Eckelson, is also his teacher at Pine View. She is a seventh and eighth grade English and social studies teacher. She explained at the meeting the learning process her students go through to prepare for the National History Day competitions.
Marvin Albright pointed out the highlights of the Historical Society’s year, thanking co-curators Sharon Weible and Jeanne Chappell-Kingsbury, the docents, the officers and directors for all of their dedicated work. Two lovely new mannequins, constructed by Lyle Weible, Al Dwenger and Bob Ahrendt with faces drawn by artist Herbie Naumann, greet visitors to Pioneer Hall.
Albright announced that Volunteer Energy Cooperative awarded the Historical Society two grants, $200 for an energy audit and $500 to be used to make Pioneer Hall more energy efficient along with a $750 grant from Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility. A grant from Humanities Tennessee is making possible ways of using the museum as a valuable resource for teachers and a meaningful learning laboratory for students.
Lisa Oakley of East Tennessee History Center, President Albright, curators Weible and Chappell-Kingsbury met with the faculty of the Pleasant Hill Elementary School to discuss these possibilities. The Historical Society and Pioneer Museum are extremely important assets for Pleasant Hill as they keep alive the Pleasant Hill Academy, Father Dodge, Dr. May and all of the unique attributes that make this town so special.
It has come to my attention that there was another “seagoing cowboy” as was mentioned in the May 6 column about Heifer Ranch. Dick Lammers took animals to Italy in 1947. It is interesting to note that all three of these men and their spouses spent 30-plus years in foreign mission — the Rieszs in India, the Lords in Africa and the Lammers in Japan.