With the stroke of a pen and the vote of five remaining members, the Jasper County Historical Society, a group that has been preserving Jasper County history since the 1950s, became a part of that history.
The last entry in the Jasper County Historical Society’s log book, penned by the group’s last president, Steve Weldon, on Sunday, said “On this date The Jasper County Historical Society became part of the Eastern Jasper County Historic Sites Association.”
“We all signed our name here,” Weldon said of the five Historical Society members who were present Sunday. “That will be the end, that will close the book and it goes in the file.”
Members of the Historical Society agreed to fold their group into the Eastern Jasper County Historic Sites Association, a group that has been dedicated since the early 2000s to preserving and maintaining the Cave Springs School in the southeastern corner of the county.
The two groups met and finalized the deal to turn over the Historical Society’s assets, approximately $3,000 in a bank account, to the Historic Sites Association.
The Historic Sites Association will meet at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21 at the Cave Springs School to elect officers and discuss coming events and actions at the school.
Tackett said the group meets twice a year, once in the Spring and once in the Fall.
Weldon, who also serves as archivist at the Jasper County Records Center, said the group became an organization in 1953, but faded from view in the 1960s and 1970s.
The late Carthage Press Editor Marvin VanGilder and the late Eleanor Caufield helped revive in 1973 and worked hard to keep the group active in the years since then.
“There are only a few remaining members so we decided to join a group that has more of a purpose and a future,” Weldon said.
Helen Hunter, a member of the Historic Sites Association and volunteer at the Records Center, said the Cave Springs School, along with the adjoining Cave Springs Cemetery, was named to the National Register of Historic Places in July, a major achievement for the Association.
The Historic Sites Association was formed in 1968, two years after the Sarcoxie School District absorbed the Cave Springs students and the school closed as part of the statewide school reorganization plan.
She said member Racine Palmer’s family and others who lived in the Cave Springs area, formed the group, then got the Duncan family, whose descendents helped build the original school, and the Sarcoxie School District to deed the school over to the Association.
By the mid-2000s the school had deteriorated once again, so in 2007, the group, with a grant from the Community Foundation and help from Carthage residents Pat and Caroline Phelps, started a big restoration project.
Page 2 of 2 - Bricks made by the Duncan family and salvaged from a 19th Century home that burned in the 1970s were used in the restoration.
In 2009, the group paid to have a monument to Civil War veterans and civilians killed in the area during the Civil War installed at the fence next to the cemetery and new headstones were installed on the graves of 26 Union veterans buried in the cemetery.
“I feel like those soldiers were lost for 150 years and we brought them back,” Helen Hunter said. “We now know where they are and who they are and we have families putting flowers on their grave. We feel like that was a worthwhile project.”