Elks Lodge to share vault of Civil War, Indian artifacts at Armstrong festival
KITTANNING — Members of the Kittanning Elks Lodge hope to showcase local history on Saturday, with its inaugural Armstrong County Heritage Display.
The club plans to display several items, ranging from large photo murals and Elks paraphernalia, to Civil War rifles and weaponry from the Kithanink Indian tribe, during the Fort Armstrong Folk Festival being held through Sunday night in Riverfront Park outside the Elks.
The display marks the first time the public has been able to see several of the pieces, according to Tyler Woodside, a member of the club's historical committee.
“We're actually trying to function like an actual running museum, where members and nonmembers can loan or donate things for the general public to come in and enjoy,” Woodside said. “We're just getting started.”
Josh Julius, also a member of the club's historical committee, said the panel formed about three months ago, after several members realized the artifacts and photomurals were sitting in the club's vault. Nobody had taken care of the items in several years, he said.
“Something needed to be done here to preserve all the items we have,” Julius said. “We're not just preserving military history, but we're also preserving the history of our entire community.”
The late William Jessop, a doctor in the region during the late 1800s and club founder, donated the collection to the Kittanning Elks Club, Woodside said. During the 1970s, a portion of the collection was stolen from the club, he said.
“We had a theft in the 1970s, and part of the collection was stolen,” Woodside said. “So our members put the rest of it in our vault, and forgot about it.
“It's all been sitting there ever since.”
The remaining pieces include nine rifles, 13 swords and several smaller items, which date back to the Civil War.
The club plans to feature several gold-tone murals, which not only photographically chronicle Kittanning's history but play a role in the Kittanning Elks Club's past.
The murals, created in 1948 by F. Ross Altwater of Altwater and Brothers in Pittsburgh, once adorned the lodge's walls, before the building caught fire in 1971, Woodside said. The murals weren't damaged in the fire but were taken down and stored in the club's vault.
“It's been about 40 years since these photomurals have even been seen by the public,” Woodside said.
Woodside said three large panels, 10 to 20 feet long, feature photos of the region in the 1940s, including the Armstrong County Courthouse, images of the area during the Civil War, and the Allegheny River and the coal industry.
The club has several smaller murals, he said.
The club hopes to collect donations to get the murals treated — to prevent fading — and framed before being permanently displayed, Woodside said.
“We want to let people just enjoy it, and be aware of our history,” Woodside said. “Armstrong County has a rich heritage and history, and we're just trying to preserve part of it.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- The following were committed to …
- Crash leaves Burrell Township family without father, friend
- Family escapes house fire in Kittanning
- Teachers at two Armstrong schools go casual for a cause
- Kittanning, Kiski police getting trained to help abuse victims
- House fire quickly snuffed in Ford City
- Armstrong County adopts $20.7 million budget, maintains tax rate
- South Buffalo church nears end of more than a century of worship
- Officials get early start on NuMine bridge replacement planning
- Donation another step toward new roof at Cowansville veterans center
- Project Joy lifts Christmas spirits at Armstrong County Health Center