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Museum remembers Mattox in virtual Juneteenth celebration

FLUSHING, Ohio — For the first time in its history, the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing will mark the Juneteenth anniversary — the formal end of slavery on June 19, 1865 — without the museum’s founder and curator John Mattox.

Mattox, a local historian, educator and community leader who taught about African Americans and their contributions to America, died last July.

Kristina Estle, director of the Underground Railroad Museum, said this Juneteenth will also honor Mattox’s memory. Estle and Brooke Robinson, media director at Belmont County Tourism, have created a video that will be posted on the museum’s website today.

“It was made in honor of Dr. John Mattox with his one-year death anniversary approaching on July 17, as well as to educate the community about the importance of this historical date.”

She said the video will include scenes from the museum and historical figures.

“It’s very saddening, just getting closer to his one-year death anniversary. A lot of emotions resurfacing,” she said. “I do feel like just continuing his legacy with the museum has been so rewarding. We’ve come really far in trying to bring the organization from the ground up.”

She said Mattox’s children have been involved in continuing museum operations.

In addition, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and renovation work going on in the museum has stopped any plans for tours and presentations there. However, Estle said they are making an effort to reach out to the community.

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