Brooke museum compiles vets book

WELLSBURG – From the Civil War to the war in Iraq, the Brooke County Museum has been detailing the impact of war and the military on the county’s history for many years.

Volunteers with the museum, now formally known as the Brooke County Museum and Cultural Center, are taking it a step further with a book that will compile the stories of veterans living in Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties.

Ruby Greathouse, volunteer curator for the museum, said an open house will be held there from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday to reveal plans for the book, which will be titled “Military Heroes of the WV Northern Panhandle.”

The museum is at 704 Charles St. not far from the Wellsburg Town Square and Brooke County Courthouse.

The group was inspired by the “Marshall County Patriots and Heroes” series produced by Gary Rider, an author and former teacher; and his wife, Patty. In its fourth volume, the book series has compiled the stories of hundreds of Marshall County veterans.

“With the Marshall County books doing such a great job of covering veterans there, we decided to focus on the three northernmost counties,” Greathouse said.

She added the Riders have offered to assist and will be on hand Sunday. Also slated to appear is Ryan Weld, president of the Brooke County Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, who will have nomination forms for the group’s Veteran of the Year award.

Plans for the book call for short profiles of veterans who have served in the various military branches over the years to be interspersed with photos of veterans monuments established in the three counties.

Greathouse said the group will be raising funds to print the book and will accept donations in honor or memory of a veteran. Plans call for such contributions to be acknowledged in the book.

A group of museum board members and volunteers has put together a survey through which veterans may submit details of their military service.

In addition to postal or e-mail addresses and phone numbers, space is provided for each veteran to state his or her military branch, military group or unit, rank, years of service, location of training and specialization, experience overseas and in wars or conflicts and medals.

The veterans also are asked to share any special stories, if they wish, and briefly describe their civilian lives afterward and how their military service affected them.

The survey also asks for photos and about arrangements for interviews.

Copies will be available at the open house as well as courthouses and libraries in each county and other locations to be announced.

For information, veterans may call (304) 312-5316, e-mail or write to: Military Heroes Project, 704 Charles St., Wellsburg, WV 26070.

The group hopes to complete the book for release around Memorial Day 2015.

It recently received a boost from the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, which donated a desk, two credenza and four filing cabinets to be used by volunteers compiling the book.

The furniture is from the former Wheeling Corrugating Plant in Beech Bottom, which the BDC has acquired with the help of Hackman Capital Partners and is working to fill with new businesses.

Other nonprofit groups also have received office supplies and other materials from the plant, which were left untouched when the facility’s previous owner filed for bankruptcy.

Hackman Capital also donated to the museum samples of steel, photos and other items from the plant, which once was a division of Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel, through the arrangement of BDC Executive Director Pat Ford.

Greathouse said for those who have never visited the museum, the open house will be a good time to see its many exhibits.

The museum has two rooms with military uniforms, pictures, letters and other items dating from the American Revolution to the present and a large display of glass dishes and other pieces produced by many glass companies that once operated in Wellsburg.

The main area of the museum is divided into numerous 8 by 12 foot displays recreating such scenes as an 1890s kitchen, dining room and bedroom; 1920s kitchen, one-room schoolhouse and the former Brooke County Jail.

The museum is open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Sunday and by appointment by calling (304) 737-4060.

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