Gem County Historical Society
By Nick Petersen, Gem County Historical Society
Established in 1972, Gem County Historical Society (GCHS) is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. We provide a variety of exhibits in a multi-building Museum complex. A Victorian residence is furnished with many of the belongings of Governor Frank W. Hunt (Idaho's 5th Governor, 1901-1903). Other structures include a blacksmith shop, one room schoolhouse, bunkhouse and natural history display.
The main museum houses two floors of exhibits, storage areas and office. The McNeely Historical Library is also housed here. It provides research opportunities and preservation for books, documents, maps and photos. The Gem County Veterans History Project is located in the library as well.
The Veterans History Project documents Gem County veterans both posthumously and through oral history interviews. Transcripts of interviews are placed in binders along with related documents and a brief historical context for each individual's service history. To date, over 1000 biographies have been completed ranging from the Civil War through the present. A special emphasis is placed on interviewing WW 2 veterans because time is swiftly passing.
The Museum Complex provides an educational focus on history for the 4th grade classes of Carberry Elementary, students from Black Canyon Alternative High School and home schooled children. They are given an insight into the daily lives of past Gem County residents starting with Native Americans and continuing into the 1960s. One of the most popular exhibits is the one room school which portrays the education of yesterday for consideration by the youth of today.
Since 2002, GCHS has sponsored the "River Through Time", a 2 day event staged at the Gem Island Sports Complex along the Payette River. Participants in period costumes portray a variety of different historical periods ranging from the exploration/fur trade to homesteading and mining eras. Visitors view and participate in various interactive activities including musket shooting, butter and candle making, gold panning, campfire cooking and wool spinning/weaving. An archaeologist is on hand to discuss prehistory and demonstrate use of the spear thrower.
The Idaho Civil War Volunteer organization also participates in the encampment. Demonstrations include blacksmith, seamstress, period music, battle skirmishes and the firing of Civil War era cannons on loan from the Idaho State Historical Society.
The GCHS has a strong commitment to provide educational opportunities to the public. All of the activities and resources described above are provided free of charge. The Society helps fund operations with modest membership dues. Much of our operating revenue previously came from interest earnings on endowment funds. A decrease in interest earnings has seriously impacted our cash flow.
January 21, 2013
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Unless otherwise attributed, all photos and text are the property of Gem County Historical Society
Serving Gem County since 1973.
Wednesday - Saturday 1:00pm - 5:00pm & by appointment :: Extended hours during The Cherry Festival in June.