2017-01-26 / Living

Historical Society preserves community history, brings fun to education

By Sam Tunningley


Flushing Area Historical Society Treasurer Don Wilson [L] and volunteer Pat Murphy [R] were in charge of operations for the Lionel Trains show this past December. The interactive exhibit – their most popular – is one of a few FAHS bring back each year. Wilson and Anderson are now in the midst of planning their yearly Model A car show for the summertime. 
Photo provided Flushing Area Historical Society Treasurer Don Wilson [L] and volunteer Pat Murphy [R] were in charge of operations for the Lionel Trains show this past December. The interactive exhibit – their most popular – is one of a few FAHS bring back each year. Wilson and Anderson are now in the midst of planning their yearly Model A car show for the summertime. Photo provided The Flushing Museum, located at the tail end of West Main Street and operating just few hours a week in the latter months of the year, provides something of a hidden – and essential – service for the community.

Flushing has had its own historical society since the Bicentennial Era, when the country experienced a boom in such organizations to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the United States. It was not until 1997 the society moved in to its current location at the Flushing Depot.

A freight and passenger service station built in 1888, the Depot functioned as a popular restaurant from 1975 until 1980, when a fire brought down the roof and left the building vacant for four years. It was acquired by the society on February 27, 1984.

After a decade of repair work, it became their official headquarters.

The wheels are kept turning by a Board of Directors and a host of volunteers, who work on everything from painstaking touch-up work to donations. Director Mary Wilson, Treasurer Don Wilson and President Dan Anderson are almost always on guard to answer inquiries, run monthly meetings and tend to the displays.

Anderson’s job includes answering phones, booking speakers, running board and membership meetings and general maintenance of the museum. He is in frequent contact with other local museums to find interesting individuals for meetings, along with providing appointments for family and residential history requests.

“People are curious about their families, so they’ll come in for genealogy. Sometimes we have a lot and sometimes there’s nothing, really,” said Andersen. “But we’re here to help, and that’s part of our purpose: to relay history.”

The museum holds 23,000 genealogy records and an extensive archive of Flushing Township tax records for perusing. If visitors and staff are unable to find anything substantial, Don said he will often refer them to the State of Michigan’s farm records, which offer thorough examinations of local properties.

Mary is the mind behind the museum’s idiosyncratic displays, frequenting rummage sales and polling members for unique collections to exhibit. For this year, Wilson mentioned 1970s men and women’s shavers, railroad maps from 1900-1940 and tube radios as potential ideas.

Although the Flushing Area Historical Society still holds the highest membership count in Genesee County, signups have gone steadily downward since 1997. Meeting attendance, on the other hand, is on the rise.

Mary, Don and Dan have been providing more interactive material for kids in the past few months to incorporate interactivity and further education into the museum, such as a set of Lincoln Logs bought by Mary to build with.

“[Our mission] is to preserve the history of Flushing and allow educational opportunities and research,” said Don. The Flushing Area Historical Society is open 1-4 p.m., Sundays, April through December and by appointment any time. It is located at 431 W. Main Street. Meetings are held on the third Monday of each month. January’s scheduled ‘Show and Tell’ meeting has been tentatively scheduled for February. Visit flushinghistorical.org for more information and updates.

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