Eastern Ohio has a valuable resource available in Flushing that serves as a window to our past, shedding light on a troubled time in American history.
Situated along High Street in a former bank building is the Underground Railroad Museum. Curator John Mattox founded the institution with his late wife, Rosalind, several years ago. Since then, he has worked hard not only to collect items and artifacts of the slave era, but he has sought creative ways to fund the facility so that it will be available to teach future generations important lessons about who we are, where we came from and where we are going.
This week, a local business again pledged its support to the museum and donated money to help fund its operations. Sam’s Club General Manager Cat Litchko said she and her store associates care about the local community and want to help enrich residents’ knowledge of our history.
Sam’s Club donated $1,500 from a $10,000 Wal-Mart company charity fund to the museum on Tuesday. Not only will that money help with museum operations, but it may help Mattox to fund the purchase of another site in Belmont County.
Mattox and the museum are working to buy the former home of early Quaker abolitionist Benjamin Lundy. Located on Main Street in St. Clairsville, the building dates back to the early 19th century and is the site where Lundy started an organization dedicated to eliminating slavery in the United States.
The museum is a nonprofit organization that operates solely on donations, so every gift like the one from Sam’s Club this week is key to its continued operations.
Mattox said the museum does the same thing that larger facilities in Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati do with the help of federal funding.
“We want to make sure that people don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to find out what’s in their own backyard,” he said.
Mattox chooses not to accept federal funds because he would then be required to charge a fee.
“We don’t sell our culture,” he added.
We applaud Sam’s Club for supporting the museum and urge anyone who values local history to follow suit. Donate to the museum if you can afford to, or contact Mattox to learn about other ways you could help.