Sometimes, if you look hard enough, you can find a special place amongst the most humble of settings. That is the case with the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society (OJHS), which has a war museum located inside the old Brandville School in Oregon.
The museum has artifacts ranging from the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. The display contains photos, weapons, uniforms, swords and medals from these wars. There is also a general store located in the carriage house, which is adjacent to the school.
The Society, which, according to its website, “was established in 1963 by a group of concerned citizens led by Miss Josephine Fassett, (a) longtime local education and leading citizen,” is located at 1133 Grasser St., near Pickle Road and Wheeling Street.
The organization’s president is Jeff Eversman, a 55-year old who works as a supervisor in the outdoor nursery department at The Andersons.
Back in 1973, when Eversman was
a senior at Clay High School, he spoke to Fassett, asking her if the Oregon Historical Society (OHS), as it was then known, could help to restore the school.
|Robert Marti, WWII, 1st Marine Division, donated
his uniform to the display the Oregon-Jerusalem
Historical Society museum. (Press photo by Ken
“We spoke on the phone in January and I inquired (as to) how we could save the school. She sent me a letter in February listing the reasons why the building couldn’t be restored,” Eversman said.
Fassett told Eversman that the OHS did not have the money needed to help renovate the facility.
However, a major turning point occurred when the OHS purchased Brandville School in 1977. The building had been sitting idle 51 years, but that would change. Starting in 1983, laborers and volunteers spent time helping to renovate and restore the building. The war artifacts were brought over from Clay Elementary School and the museum opened in 1986.
When listening to Eversman, a thoughtful, knowledgeable man, speak, it’s clear why this place has so much meaning and why he wanted to save it.
“When you lose a building that is a landmark of the community,” said Eversman, “you lose a little bit of yourself and the community.
The newly redesigned military display room, which includes a Vietnam War display, as well as a home front display about WWII, opened to the public on Veterans Day. The event, which attracted approximately 30 people, gave them the opportunity to view the artifacts from local service members as well as materials from the Toledo Soldiers’ Memorial Association.
Today, a number of volunteers are responsible for the general up-keep and condition of the facility.
“We have 12 trustees, additional members and volunteers that work with us,” said Eversman. “It varies throughout the year (as far as) what we need; we have probably ten volunteers that work with us regularly.”
The display is open every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., except during January and February.
One of the most famous local residents to have left his mark on history is Peter Navarre, the man who delivered the message, “We have met the enemy and they are ours” from Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry to General Harrison during the War of 1812.
An Oregon resident who attended the event, 84-year-old William Moritz, donated his Silver Star and Purple Heart to the facility. According to his son, Moritz received the Silver Star for taking on and destroying a German machine gun nest in WWII.
Another Silver Star that is newly on display is one that was awarded to Oregon resident Arthur Heringhausen, Jr. Heringhausen, an Army Specialist who was a member of the 58th Infantry, was killed in Vietnam in 1968. (View Heringhausen’s online memorial page at http://vietnam-wall.myarmedforces.com/profile/23013/Arthur_Heringhausen.)
The board is currently in the process of putting something together next year for the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War.
“Knowing a little bit of my history, family or local history tends to ground me and give me a sense of purpose. I can appreciate so much more about what I am and what my ancestors had to overcome,” Eversman said.
Robert Marti, WWII, 1st Marine Division, donated his uniform to the display the Oregon-Jerusalem Historical Society museum. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)