A history of moving forward: Stratford Area Historical Society
BY ASHLYN SOLINSKY
STRATFORD — “On the Move,” an optimistic welcome sign near the small village of Stratford declares with pride. Unfortunately, few people ever get the chance to truly appreciate how on the move Stratford really is – or understand the rich history behind the town’s apparent simplicity. But there is one little-known organization responsible for preserving Stratford’s vibrant past.
The Stratford Area Historical Society has developed and maintained a collection of unique, historical items, including Christmas ornaments, holiday decorations, school records, and even an old-fashioned printing press. Many of these historical treasures are donated or borrowed by members of the community wanting to share their unique stories. The items are displayed to the public during community-wide events, such as the annual Christmas in the Park show, in a small museum located at Klemme Park.
The Stratford Area Historical Society doesn’t just collect and display Stratford’s prized artifacts, however. “We can also help people trace their genealogy,” Eileen Riehle, President of the Stratford Historical Society, says. “We have all kinds of photographs and newspaper clippings catalogued from the 1900s.” The Stratford Area Historical Society has documents dated as early as the beginning of the 20th century. These and other resources can be used to help local residents discover their family history, forging powerful connections to the past, present, and future of their beautiful town.
Despite its vital role within the community, the Stratford Area Historical Society is struggling to find resources to maintain itself. One of the largest problems it faces, according to Riehle, is a lack of storage space to house its growing collection. In addition, membership is decreasing and the organization is experiencing a need for volunteers to help run events.
Without the Stratford Area Historical Society, the village of Stratford risks losing not only its extraordinary past, but also the root of its modern identity: a culture of hard work and perseverance that has been passed down through generations. Stratford may be on the move, charging forward with unrivaled determination. Yet, it is just as crucial to honor the legacy that this determination comes from: humble origins, strong roots, and an unbreakable community bond that will last for generations to come.
Residents of Stratford and surrounding communities are invited to visit the Stratford Area Historical Society Facebook page. For more information on how to join, volunteer, or donate items, please call Eileen Riehle at (715) 615-1007.