Sussex County History Today: Heritage Weekend trip

| 23 Oct 2023 | 12:23

An event that I look forward to each October is the Sussex County Heritage Weekend. This is the time when the historical societies of our great county open their doors to show the wonders of their towns.

This year, much of Saturday was washed out with the rain that we have been having seemingly every weekend. Sunday was much better weather and there was a good turnout.

I am the head of the Hardyston Township Historical Society, and every year we open the ancient Monroe One Room Schoolhouse, which dates back to 1820.

We have it made out well with old desks with ink wells and other artifacts of the old days of readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic. I love those old books.

We had a surprising number of visitors who came by. Some said they have observed the building for years and were glad to come in. Others had stories to tell from their ancestors, who had been students or teachers there back in the day.

It was good to have a cleanup and open the doors. The town’s road department did a good job helping with cones, new lights and attention, thank you.

The Ogdensburg Historical Society had the old Fire Department building open to the public. They have a solid building and museum and it is always fun to see the old fire engine.

John Kibildis and the twins Judy and Jane are always friendly and informative. It takes enthusiastic workers to keep a society alive; which they do.

Ogdensburg’s sister town, Franklin, was open, with Judy Williams showing the wares of the Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World.

Again, there were appreciative visitors there, and they asked very pertinent questions about the town’s heritage.

With a trip along the beautiful Paulinskill, I arrived at the Stillwater Museum to find the ever-informative and resourceful Andy Martin.

The museum has a great First People’s display along with old wardrobes and reference material. It is interesting to find similarities among holdings of our various historical societies.

A trip to the Sussex County Historical Society building showed more visitors and the fabulous displays there. What a wonderful conversation I had there, knowing that our veterans are well-acknowledged.

A stop at the very professional Sparta Historical Society was next, with a visit to the Van Kirk classic car show that is held annually. Nice antique cars.

Going into the museum, I saw the many diligent and faithful docents and researchers who are members. It is always a pleasure to see the Edison, First Peoples, Limecrest and other displays. The society provides a highly educational place in Sparta Township.

I hope that you were able to visit at least one of the great museums on this year’s tour, provided by the Sussex County Arts & Heritage Council.

I highly encourage you to mark your calendars for next October to go and see at least your town’s museum.

Contact Bill Truran, Sussex County historian, at