Gibson is developing a "Friends" group
Several months ago, a vote was taken to revive the defunct Middletown Historical Society to serve as the fundraising arm and operational nonprofit entity of Gibson Museum & Cultural Center.
The complexities proved so involved that it was determined easier to start fresh. So we approved operating as a “friends of the museum” group, continuing under the name of Gibson Museum & Cultural Center, but under the umbrella of a newly formed corporation known as the South Lake County Historical Association.
It will make little obvious difference, but will allow more latitude in investing our bank balance so it can work for us.
We’ll continue to operate as a committee of the Lake County Historical Society until the new organization is firmly established. Essential officers for the new corporation were elected as of this meeting: Mark Bredt, president; Janet Klein, secretary, and Fred Castaldo, treasurer. We’re working on the new 501c3, by-laws, policies & procedures and other operational niceties. The plan is to have all in place well before the end of the year.
See our gallery
of photos of our 1860s and the Civil War event at Middletown Mansion by Davis Palmer
Gibson’s June 1 meeting opened with all of us sharing our elation over the wonderful success of the 2nd Anniversary Civil War event May 14.
See the whole story of all that fun here.
Sad news . . .
Despite our understanding, we can only be dismayed that Judy and Bob Kauffman have taken an unspecified leave from Gibson. Judy submitted her resignation as treasurer, and Bob will not be available to continue as our facilities manager. It’s an indescribable loss, as this couple has contributed immensely – to an incalculable degree – since Gibson’s inception in the spring of 2013.
Judy, with the assistance of Linda Moran, gets the lion’s share of the credit for pulling off the Civil War event. Bob gets most of the credit for the marvelous restoration of our 1930 vintage quarters, which has made the building itself as much of an attraction as our artifacts.
Perhaps there's a message here. After our first anniversary event, we lost the invaluable Calvin and Cheryl Higgins, and Pattie and Tom Hicks. A signal to stick to more modest events that won't exhaust our volunteers?
Thanks to a mentor
We were pleased and honored by the presence at our June 1 meeting of Tony Pierucci, curator of Lake County museums in Lakeport and Lower Lake. He is also charged with keeping track of Gibson Museum and Ely Stage Stop, both of which are established in county-owned properties.
Tony is one of the very few folk in Lake County with formal training in history and museum operation. And he is generous in sharing his knowledge with us. We are very fortunate, and very grateful.
Tony has compiled a book of photos and information about historical schools and education in Lake County, due to be released late this month. Next month we’ll have a book signing at Gibson.
BOOK REVIEW: Lake County History: A Mystical Adventure in Time
by Gene Paleno, PAL Publishing Upper Lake, CA, 8½x11 452 pp paperback
“Mystical” is the appropriate keyword chosen by Gene Paleno to describe his latest work, to modify its title’s implication that it is history.
Funk & Wagnalls (once a dictionary of choice) defines “mystical” as “of the nature of intuitive or subjective perception.” Vocabulary.com says “Mystical things aren't real, but in a story or magic act, they can be fun to imagine.”
Paleno’s fascination with local history over the 50 years of his residence in Lake County is obvious as the basis for this monumental collection. His extensive delving into research sources, and committing all that data into readable prose, is a remarkable achievement for a fellow who turned 90 this month. His undeniable creative skill as author of 15 self-published works of fiction is laudable, and most apparent.
There is a gem, or several gems, of truth in each of the lifelike stories Paleno has built around them. They paint a colorful, interesting and intriguing, highly romanticized portrait of our past. It is fun: cowboys and Indians, outlaws and pioneers, escapades and adventures, and more.
For mystery fans, it can be a compelling and enjoyable challenge to try to determine which bits are factual. Serious historians, especially those cited in the book, are somewhat dismayed by the liberties taken.
The book is a “good read.” I recommend it, unless you are a serious researcher into local history. (Or if you prefer to do your reading in bed, at 450+ letter-size pages, it’s not what you’re looking for.)
So buy it, read it, enjoy it. You will undoubtedly know more than you did before about Lake County … even if, like much of life, it’s only half-true.
On sale at Gibson Museum, the Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, the Schoolhouse Museum in Lower Lake, Ely Stage Stop in Kelseyville, most local bookstores.
Gibson Museum's Fireside Chats have been rescheduled for Sundays to avoid conflicts with Living History speakers at our sibling museum, Ely Stage Stop.
Sunday, June 26, Sandy Hoberg Fox will share 50 years of collecting information about an unsolved murder mystery in Middletown. See a related story from the Middletown Mercury.
Ellen Klages, author of a wonderfully well-researched book on the history of Harbin Hot Springs and the south Lake County area will appear Sunday July 24.
August 29 will bring Willie Sapeta, chief of the Lake County Fire Department in Clearlake, to describe a fascinating map of historic fires in Lake County.
Those who had attended Bob Donley’s Fireside Chat May 29 shared some of the highlights. Bob had intrigued a crowd with insider views of the founding of Central Park and Middletown Days, but delighted all with his tales of 16 years of active participation in an annual Wagon Trail trek from here into the Nevada desert.
Chats are free of charge, although donations are welcomed, and begin at 3 pm at the museum. Seating is limited, but can be reserved by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 987-2349.
Our regular general meeting
is Wednesday, July 6, at 5:30 p.m.,
at Gibson Museum,
21267 Calistoga in Middletown
Message phone 809-8009
Lots to talk about.
Hope to see you there
Gibson Museum contributes history features to the new Middletown Mercury.
Online at middletownmercury.com
A bit of History
Samples of the kinds of information being compiled for public use at the Gibson Museum
About Lake County
First Sales of Callayomi
- Armstrong-Berry Deed
The First House
- Wm J. Armstrong
Charles Marsh Young
- The First Hotel
The First Church
- Reverend W.E. Read
The First Newspaper
- Mort Stanley
- Before the Times-Star
The First Store
The Resorts - multiple links
Lawley Toll Road
- Hamlin Herrick
- 1914 Murder
1918 Middletown Fire
The Gibson Library building
Middletown Luncheon Club
Volunteer Fire Dept.
Middletown, by Skee Hamann
A video of Forest Lake
Middletown circa 1930s
Rewards of volunteering
There are so many unexpected benefits in volunteering with Gibson Museum. Perhaps best, you learn a lot!
Most rewarding, we’ve also learned just how great our community actually is … community support is not just a concept. It works! In real life!
Come on over and help.
Call Pat Berry 987-8439, Nina 987-2349, or Mark 530-1197.