JAY — The Jay Historical Society is dedicated to preserving the history of the 117-year-old town.
The organization, made up of all volunteer members from the community, share an interest in researching and compiling all known history of Jay and surrounding communities. The society collects artifacts, antiques, pictures and like to securely display them for generations to enjoy at the Jay Historical Museum, located in the Cannon Building on Commerce Street in Jay. The museum serves as the "time capsule" of Jay, according to its citizens. The building itself, according to volunteer Dot Diamond, is a historical landmark that once served as a store for the town.
"It used to have only a dirt floor back then," Diamond said.
Diamond said the museum began in a home that was donated to the society before they moved to the current building. Inside the museum, the society has filled the building with artifacts from the town that has been collected over the years, including pictures, furnishings and artifacts from buildings including the original Jay High School that Diamond said they saved from being lost forever.
"When they were demolishing the old school, they were just taking these pictures to the dump," Diamond said. "Nobody cared about them."
Diamond said her husband saved two of the original doors from the school from being thrown away and the society collected some of the original bricks. She was shocked to see many trophy cases that still had trophies and other artifacts from the school as well as other things such as desks being thrown out when the school was demolished. Diamond said she recalled when an elderly lady donated pictures to the museum of the original Jay High girl's basketball team, of which the person was the captain of, to the museum.
"I asked her if she didn't want to keep these for her family," Diamond said. "She told me that after she was gone her family wouldn't care about them and would probable throw them away."
In other areas of the museum the society has collected artifacts including an original organ from one of the churches from the early 1900s, medical instruments from the early parts of the town's history and two horse drawn wagons. Diamond said all the artifacts in the museum are donated by residents of the community who want to preserve the town's heritage. Diamond said that whenever they receive a new piece to the museum they get the back story on it to share with the community.
When the museum is open, usually on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m to 3 p.m., the volunteers give guided tours to visitors explaining the town's history and the history of every artifact in the museum as well as give demonstrations on some of the artifacts including a working butter churn and the organ.
In the future, the society hopes to build a homestead to show how life was in the old days of the town on a piece of property they own near the museum. According to the society, the homestead would showcase some authentic furnishings and serve as an addition to the current museum. Currently, they are seeking grants for the building.