By Nicole Gillies
Volunteering at the Newstead Historical Society wasn’t the way I wanted to spend a Tuesday afternoon. I figured I would be doing busy work and nothing of interest. My perception couldn’t have been more wrong. Each day I was working with artifacts, like newspapers from the 1800’s describing a notorious murder, the dairies of settlers telling the legend of Murder Creek, or how prosperous the town of Akron was prior to 1920. I discovered a lot about my little town. Driving through Akron, you would see a Chinese food restaurant, a park and century old houses. After working at the historical society, I now see the building where people would take mineral baths in. These baths would supposedly cure anything that ails you from cancer to a headache. People would travel from all over to take a mineral bath in what is now a Chinese food restaurant. When I drive past the local park, I think of the newspaper article that tells a story of how two little girls were murdered at the hands of a psychopath. Lastly, Akron is littered with century old houses that originally started out as restaurants, hotels and school houses.
I learned more about my town in 12 hours than I did living here for 10 years. The historical society allowed me to work side by side with precious artifacts and understand the many stories they tell. My time at the historical society allowed for a better understanding of how my town came to be, the struggles it went through, and the people who settled it. It was not a waste of a Tuesday afternoon, but a valuable learning experience that I would greatly repeat.
Nicole Gillies is a junior finishing up her last semester at Genesee Community College. She will graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts in Science and hopes to continue on to Daemen College in the spring.