Volunteers take on many tasks, and among the most notable groups are the keepers of history, particularly Adair County history.

Seeing actual documents, photographs and items related to a historic event or person can bring them to life with details and ephemera.

Preserving history is collecting pieces of a past that can only be read about, or experienced, by examining what remains. It is more than saving something, but helping to extend the life, such as keeping fragile paper in climate-controlled spaces or conserving delicate items carefully in acid-free paper or wrapped in linen. It is an important task – and not always an easy one – to keep history for protection as well as posterity. And to be able to catalog and later find those items or documents is another task.

Our history tells of roots and values, recreational and cultural activities, spiritual ideals, and sometimes, just cold, hard facts.

The group called Adair County Genealogical and Historical Association has collected and cared for antiques and important items for decades, even rescuing the site of their museum, The Kansas City Southern Depot. The late Betty Barker may have been the fearless leader of the group back then, but it took the entire organization to push that project through to success. While it was closed during the pandemic, volunteers are working to create new and better displays than what was showing previously.

The group has also been successful at securing a grant from the Cherokee Nation to build a community center with climate-controlled collection area for delicate documents, areas for classes, history displays and meetings. The collections of the group include history related to the Cherokee tribe, and will also be displayed and better preserved for future reference.

History may seem like old junk to some – nothing to get excited about, let alone keep safe. But to those who value artifacts, the knowledge gained from researching history, and better understanding of what society has become based on those who have gone before, it is priceless. There may not be pyramids and pharaohs' secrets to discover in Adair County,but there are true stories of brave and creative people who founded churches, schools, businesses and communities worth telling about.

And thanks to the history volunteers, there are wonderful items, such as Stilwell baseball team uniforms and even pre-statehood quilts that have stories to share. Locals can trace ancestors at the Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association and visitors can learn how strawberries evolved into a festival, and much more.

Volunteers are always welcome at ACH&GA, so sign up: The history saved could matter to someone, somewhere down the road.

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