A group met December 18, 1958, to formulate a Polk County Historical Society. Mrs. Clares Powell invited fourteen ladies to her home on January 1, 1959 to explore interest in organizing a society.
Iris Powell was appointed temporary chairman and Emma Henkle was the temporary secretary. On January 21, 1959, a permanent organization was formed. A constitution was adopted and officers elected. Those elected were: Francis B. Haines, President; Mrs. Delwen Reinemer, Vice President; Mrs. Leland Prather, Secretary; Mrs. O.G. Lyday, Treasurer.
In an April 23, 1959, news article, Dr. Haines stated there were ninety-five signed as charter members.
Meanwhile, the Polk County Museum Commission had dreams of sharing their love of all things historical with residents and visitors alike, long before there was any building to call home. When the Commission disbanded in 1989, the Museum Association continued fundraising efforts while reorganizing into a non-profit organization. Until a permanent building could be realized, the Association became temporary tenants in the 1912 Carnegie Library Building provided by the City of Dallas. On February 16, 1991, the Polk County Museum opened for business.
The Museum Association had been collecting treasures, both donated and on loan, for years. These treasures were now available to be seen and shared with the public, no longer hidden in attics, garages and sheds. The artifacts and documents collected reflected the diversity of cultures and people of the Polk County area. Opening ceremonies included talks by local collectors and historians, performances by local musicians and songs sung by Grand Ronde elders to the beating of a skin drum.
Today, the Polk County Historical Society is a public-benefit, non-profit corporation managed by a Board of Directors consisting of the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, nine Directors and the immediate Past President. Board members are elected to the Annual Membership Meeting held each January. The volunteer Board of Directors meets monthly to implement the pronouncements comprising the PCHS Mission Statement.
Fourth of July is a day to celebrate not only freedom, but our history. I encourage you to visit the Polk County Historical Society, and remember just what it is our ancestors fought and died for; what soldiers today continue to fight to protect. Thank you to those who have served, and thank you to those that work to preserve our history.