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Historical Preservation Society launches Oral History Project

Posted on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm

The Elsberry Historical Preservation Society is currently collecting oral history interviews with senior members of the Elsberry community.

The project is an effort to collect and preserve firsthand accounts of what the town of Elsberry and its surrounding areas were like in days past before those memories are lost forever.

“We started talking about doing oral histories some time ago, but we didn’t really get into the project for a little while,” said Barbara Cheatham, treasurer and secretary for the Elsberry Historical Preservation Society. “Pat Mesker, Billy Burke, and my husband Conrad got the ball rolling when they interviewed Mavis Gentry. He talked quite a bit about the formation of the drainage district, but he also talked about the stores that were on the north side of Broadway back in the early days. After that first interview we put the project on hold until last year when Linda Korasick and Julie Wayman offered to start interviewing people again.”

Wayman said the program is an on-going project she started working on several years ago.

“We need to preserve the memories from Elsberry’s recent past,” said Wayman. “We have to capture these voices because they’re a treasure”.

The Historical Society is also compiling a collection of old photographs depicting some of the buildings that once stood in Elsberry, as well as many that still do.

There is no particular age requirement for those wishing to be interviewed as part of the project and all types of memories are welcome.

“We want to hear about and record anything and everything they can remember about this community’s past,” said Pat Mesker, president of the Elsberry Historical Preservation Society.

Those involved with the project have enlisted the assistance of Sarah Hunt, librarian at the Joseph R. Palmer Memorial Library, who will help transfer the recordings onto CDs so they can be better preserved for future generations.

“We’re currently using some older equipment that was loaned to us by the city,” said Hunt.

Two copies will be made of each recording.

The first copy will be kept in a safe deposit box or locked up at the library.

“I’m sure they’ll end up in our genealogy room in a locked area where people would have access to them but they would have to sign them in and out,” said Hunt.

Hunt added that it would be nice in the future if people could access the recordings via a website, but acknowledged that a project like that is probably further down the road.

The second copy will be stored at the Claude Robinson House at 106 N. 2nd St. and will be available to anyone wishing to roll up their sleeves and delve into Elsberry’s past, whether for research purposes or simply for personal enjoyment.

Anyone interested in being interviewed as part of the project, or in assisting with the interviews should contact Pat Mesker at (636) 577-0557.

All those wishing to submit pictures and/or other memorabilia should contact Lisa Mayes at (573) 898-5741.