The public is invited to spend "A Night at the Museum" to support a local organization that provides an important window to the past.
The Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing has been a Belmont County attraction since its founding by John Mattox and his late wife, Rozz, in 1993. The museum features an extensive collection of publications, books, memorabilia and other articles. Its website notes that "the exhibits portray what is known about slavery and the Underground Railroad in Ohio and features an understanding of the culture in the 1800s."
The URRM is expanding and has signed an agreement to purchase the former home of Quaker anti-slavery leader Benjamin Lundy in St. Clairsville. The Lundy House is a recognized location on the National Freedom Trail.
Mike McCormick, a member of the URRM's Board of Directors, is seeking people and businesses to become "modern-day conductors" on the Underground Railroad by making gifts to the URRM.
"We are asking the public to make unrestricted donations to the URRM, so we can use them for ongoing operating expenses, to help buy the Lundy House or to fund anything else that the URRM needs," he said.
According to McCormick, Mattox has been paying for the museum's budget shortfalls out of his own pocket, and the museum needs help from the community to preserve it for future generations.
"Knowing Dr. Mattox, I can understand why he has preferred to pay out of his own pocket any shortfall of URRM funds rather than keep asking others for help. He has a true sense of honor and dignity," McCormick added.
To help raise funds for the URRM, J.P. Dutton, a Republican candidate for Belmont County commissioner in the fall, will be hosting two different "Night at the Museum" events. He is running for the seat currently held by Commissioner Ginny Favede and faces opposition from Mike Bianconi, who won the Democratic primary this month.
The first "Night at the Museum" event will be held 6-8 p.m. Friday at the museum at 121 High St., Flushing. The second event will be held two weeks later from 6-8 p.m. April 15 at the Benjamin Lundy House at 164 E. Main St., St. Clairsville.
Regarding the "Night at the Museum" events, Dutton stated, "Food by Jane will provide hors-d'oeuvres. Dr. Mattox will speak. A donation of $100 or more is requested, but any donation is appreciated."
Dutton asks that those who are unable to attend but want to donate send their tax-deductible donations to: The Underground Railroad Museum, c/o Dr. John S. Mattox, 71056 Morristown-Flushing Road, Flushing, OH 43977.