Monday, February 09, 2015

EDITORIAL >> Cherishing local history

Several efforts to preserve and promote local history deserve the public’s support. Volunteers throughout the area have worked hard to keep alive the stories of the past that provide context about our hometowns.

Sherryl Miller and the genealogy research team at the Lonoke County Museum have been contributing articles to The Leader for several months about Civil War veterans who fought on both sides of the conflict, many of whom went on to serve in leadership positions in the state and county.

The stories are as fascinating as the museum’s collection and its monthly lectures on the Civil War.

In Sherwood, Darrell Brown led the restoration of the old Roundtop gas station, even when confronted by a not-always-patient city council that was concerned the project was too expensive for a rundown building located in a remote part of town.

Before the work, drivers passing by would often see the station vandalized with graffiti. The building was even struck by arsonists just as the renovation was nearly completed.

The restored Roundtop, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a welcome addition to the already pleasant Trammel Road area, where flooded Cypress trees are a gateway to a tucked-away pocket of neighborhoods.

The historic building is perhaps better than ever. It will soon be a substation for the Sherwood Police Department.

Brown is also involved with other history initiatives as chairman of the Sherwood History and Heritage Committee.

To honor the approaching 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the First World War, Mike Polston, a Cabot High School teacher who runs the Museum of American History, has been gathering photos and documents related to Lonoke County men who fought in World War I.

We published a photo from Polston last Saturday of Lonoke County native Eddie Barton Hamm, who won a gold medal and set a world record during the 1928 summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

One wonders what became of Hamm following his return as the nation fell into the Great Depression.

Local history, much like local news, is key to understanding why our communities matter.