Ashley Bailey has immersed herself in Auburn Township history.
“A time capsule” is how the Kenston High School junior describes her volunteer job at the Auburn Museum where she has been emptying boxes of material and organizing historical items on walls and in display cases in preparation for Memorial Day.
“It’s literally a scrapbook of Auburn,” said Ashley, 17. “There are so many interesting things.”
Ashley Bailey has immersed herself in Auburn Township history. “A time capsule” is how the Kenston High School junior describes her volunteer job at the Auburn Museum where she has been emptying boxes of material and organizing historical items on walls and in display cases in preparation for Memorial Day. “It’s literally a scrapbook of Auburn,” said Ashley, 17. “There are so many interesting things.”
For the past few months, she has been going through boxes of documents, books, photos, clothing and old tools as she helps set up the museum, which will be open for tours following Memorial Day services Monday at the township cemeteries. The museum is only open to the public once a year, on Memorial Day, because of a lack of restrooms and water. The opening has happened over the past several years.
Formerly the Free Will Baptist Church, the building sits across from Shadyside Cemetery. The building had been owned by Leighton Starr, the former principal at Auburn School who donated it to the township in the 1970s.
Auburn Trustee P.J. Cavanagh said the museum recently underwent some renovations, so all the artifacts were stored in boxes during the work. Now, Ashley is putting all the items back in place.
“She has an amazing interest in history at her age,” Mr. Cavanagh said.
Ashley, who is a member of the Geauga 4-H group, Auburn Swine, had passed the museum many times, but had never been inside.
“I actually went there and looked in the windows,” Ashley said.
She learned about the museum through Mr. Cavanagh’s wife, Ruth. Ashley contacted him and offered to help out in any way she could. She met with Mr. Cavanagh, who gave her the go-ahead to organize the artifacts.
Working after school two or three times a week, she has been filling the empty display cases. She displayed a box of classroom photos from the old Auburn School on the wall.
She has worked on displays of clothing dating from the late 1800s to the 1950s. Clothing includes sports uniforms from Auburn School as well as baby clothes.
The museum holds tools used by Auburn Township founder Bildad Bradley from the time when he was building homes in the township. She learned he had built his house in Newbury Township and then moved it to Auburn. He settled in Auburn in 1816.
Ashley said she finds the school items interesting because they revolve around school event functions. There is also an old table and chairs once used by trustees in the old Auburn Town Hall.
Her regret is that so many residents who could have shed some light on them have died.
Although Ashley has grown up in Auburn, she said she never had the opportunity to experience it this way. She has learned a lot just reading the books and documents.
Ashley’s interest in history was inspired by her own family’s renovation of a 173-year-old farm house on Taylor May Road in the township. Renovations took about six months.
“It really got me interested in history,” said Ashley, who will be 17 this month.
She is looking to a career in historical preservation. She said she has made some good connections through Mr. Cavanagh and Auburn Fiscal Officer Fred May. She is planning to go to the College of Charleston in South Carolina, or the University of Mary Washington in Virginia to pursue those goals.
“It’s been a great place to learn about local history,” she said.
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