High school history buff

I am a history buff. Ever since I can remember, I've always had a fascination with the past. So when it came time to find volunteer opportunities to satisfy Westlake High School's community service requirement, I knew I wanted to do something that I love, and that would keep my interest.

One day last spring, my mom found an article in the Observer describing the Westlake Historical Society and its many opportunities for volunteers. The article was entitled "Do you have a heart for history?" It was as if the article was written specifically for me!

After reading the article, I called Lysa Stanton, the president of the society. What was going to be a 15-minute interview turned into a two-hour discussion of our mutual passion for history. That initial meeting led me to where I am today, an active volunteer for the Westlake Historical Society. I found a place where I can enjoy history, help to preserve it and share my passion.

On the first day with Lysa, my education on the history of Westlake began. I spent those early hours reading through various books and pamphlets about the first settlers of Dover Township, of the Western Reserve(the area's original name) and became familiar with the names of Leverett Johnson, Leonard Porter, Joseph Cahoon, Jedediah Crocker, Asher Cooley, Abner Smith and Robert Clague.

The Westlake Historical Society operates the Clague House Museum located at 1371 Clague Rd., on the original property of the Clague family. For the next step in my historical education, Lysa gave me a tour and described the relevant historical objects that are contained within the Clague house. Each object is defined through the telling of family stories. I love to interact with delicate objects from the past, as they touch my imagination and make me wonder about life back then.

My experiences volunteering for the historical society have been varied. I've been able to work with historical wedding dresses and have documented old photographs. I assisted on an interview with a local resident. I have helped set up for the annual antique show. I have even weeded the garden.

But my most rewarding activity so far has been giving personal tours of the Clague House Museum, while dressed in period clothing. By dressing up as an early 1900s school teacher, I really felt like I was from that time period and was able to make a direct connection with the past. Other events for which I've volunteered include the Fourth of July picnic and the Halloween Kids Fest.

I thoroughly enjoy learning about Westlake's rich history and its evolution from several families to over 30,000 residents. Every time I spend a couple of hours at the museum, I learn something new. My experiences as a volunteer have been very rewarding. I would encourage anyone, young or old, who shares a passion and natural curiosity for the history of our community to either join and/or volunteer at the Westlake Historical Society.

Morgan Hansen, sophomore at Westlake High School

Westlake Historical Society volunteer

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Volume 5, Issue 1, Posted 9:20 AM, 01.08.2013