The past – it’s a place filled with fond memories, regrets and many important life lessons. The Lincoln County Historical Society actively strives to preserve this community’s past in present times.
The society started in 1968, and quickly laid plans to build a county museum. However, just after it opened, the building location burned to the ground.
A few years later in 1979, the Historical Society was given a new mission when the Lincoln County Court released the old jail to the society. Since then, much of the society’s resources have been dedicated to the upkeep of the old jail, which was built in 1876.
The old jail itself has one piece of original furniture, a large bed upstairs in the sheriff’s quarters and everything in the jail cells is original.
Other furniture has been donated over the years, and the jail building itself has gone through several stages of renovation before going back to its original brick outside in 2000 and then being sandblasted to remove lead paint in 2005.
The historical society also owns the Briton House, although the house has its own board of directors in charge of financial decisions.
The society works with the community to promote getting buildings listed on the National Historic Register, which a large portion of Main Street has been able to do with the efforts of the Troy Chamber of Commerce and Main Street business owners.
Being the Lincoln County Historical Society, the board of directors works to help other cities in the county, especially Elsberry, which has a very active preservation group.
Currently the society is run by a board of nine directors, with Paul Bodeen as the current president of the society, Linda Sullivan as the secretary, and Mary Sue Thompson as the treasurer.
Mary Anne Kemper, a board member of the society, shared some reasons why the organization is special.
“The old jail is available for anyone to come and see if they call and make an appointment, and we are constantly adding to it with donations,” Kemper said.
She also shared that the society has a library with many historical documents.
The organization throws several events throughout the year; the next upcoming one is a “Show and Tell Night” on April 11, where members of the public are invited to bring an item to share a story about or maybe find out more about.
They also host a cemetery tour in June as a fundraiser, and open the old jail for tours during city events such as Night of 1000 Stars.
The board meets once a month usually on the fourth Monday, and members are free to attend.
Kemper also shared what she felt people should know about history.
“People don’t realize some really interesting history is right here at home. We always look to St. Louis or New York or other places. But there’s all kinds of things that have happened here that are reflected in history. I think it’s really important to be aware of your local history because we are part of the bigger picture.”