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Bringing one of Maryville's 'best-kept secrets' into view

Bringing one of Maryville's 'best-kept secrets' into view

Village trustee looks to keep history alive with historical museum

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With attention focused on unprecedented growth in the fastest-growing community in Madison County, one Maryville trustee has his eye on the past.

Ed Kostyshock, a village trustee and a lifetime Maryville resident, has been gradually adding to the Maryville Historical Museum's inventory and building a promising collection in the village's Old Fire House on the corner of East Zupan and Donk that tells the story of the village's early days.

"We started collecting items before the centennial celebration five years ago," he said about the museum's beginning.

Since then, Kostyshock has fielded calls from area residents with interesting photos and memorabilia to donate to the museum and has attended auctions looking for additions to the collection.

"I am on the look-out for items people used here in Maryville - everyday items people used," he said about the collection. "About 95 percent (of the collection) is from right here. We've been fortunate to get all of it because so many things are thrown away."

The collection has steadily grown to include several photos - photos of bands that played in Buffalo Park in the early 1900's, children who attended the first Maryville School and of coal miners attending a United Mine Workers picnic in 1915.

"My grandfather and uncle worked in the coal mines and I've tried to pick them out," he said examining the photo of men dressed in suits, ties and hats.

Everyday household items tell the story of life when toast was made on a wire rack on top of a stove and people used sausage grinders, cabbage shredders and butter-churners.

Maryville's prolific contribution to professional baseball is represented at the museum by items once belonging to players and village residents Dwain Sloat, Ken Oberkfell and Mike Semanisin.

"At one time, we had more professional baseball players than any other town our size in the country," he said. "I don't know if that still stands, but for a small town, we have had a lot."

The museum also includes clues to the village's early days when the coal mines opened by the Donk brothers provided employment and everything that grew with the workers and their families - mine hats with carbide lamps, lunch buckets, black powder fuses and a miner's ax.

"At one time, we had 13 taverns, two shows, a bowling alley, bakery, shops and grocery stores," he said.

But the mines closed and the miners moved on to other mines while some stayed.

"My family stayed," he said. "My dad started in the mines when he was 16 years old; he took care of the mules. But one time, the lights went out for several hours and he said he didn't know what dark was until then. He got on a streetcar the next day and got a job in St. Louis."

Newest additions include a chopping block, a copper apple-butter kettle and an old wagon from a Maryville farm.

"The frame is good and some of the cross timbers and side bars need work," he said about the wagon that dates back to the late 1890's. "I've had my eye on this for a while."

Some of the museum's older items include a baby buggy from 1844 and a saddle from the early 1800's.

But what Kostyshock said the museum — which he called "one of the community's best-kept secrets" — needs is a corps of volunteers.

"Right now, we don't have any regular hours," he said. "My goal is to have regular hours and to begin getting some things in order - the photos framed and assembling things like the loom that needs to be put together."

To arrange a tour, donate items or volunteer at the museum, call Kostyshock at 345-4500 or Janet Butts at 345-4964.

E-mail: dieuhill@yahoo.com

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