Welcome to the Weisenberg-Lowhill Township Historical Society!
May 18, 2023
By: David Malafarina
We've been around for over 110 years, so it's no surprise that history is important to us. That's why for National Museum Day we wanted to highlight an organization dedicated to preserving history in our community.
The Weisenberg/Lowhill Township Historical Society was organized in 2003 to help curate cultural artifacts and celebrate the heritage of Weisenberg and Lowhill Townships in the Lehigh Valley. We sat down with members of the historical society to introduce you to their members, their facilities, and what they do to preserve our history.
You can learn more about events at the historical society by visiting their website at http://www.weisenberglowhill.org/
GLORIA: Hi I'm Gloria Zimmerman, President.
DON: And I'm Don Breininger, President Emeritus. We welcome all of you to the Weisenberg/Lowhill Township Historical Society.
GLORIA: In 2000, my father passed away, my mother had died in 1998, and it was at that time that I started thinking about wouldn't it be a great idea to have a historical society for this area? This was our family home and my grandfather purchased this in 1917 and asked after his death in 1975, my parents ran the hotel business and it finally closed in 1994. After speaking with Donald Breininger about organizing a historical society, I gave this property in 2002 and, after talking with Donald several times, we organized it in 2003.
DON: There's a lot of local history that is included, with the displays along the wall and in the cabinets; family grouping photographs and also historical buildings. In the display cases themselves, we have the regalia from the Knights of the Golden Eagle, all types of advertising of local businesses, we have a collection of woolen coverlets, from 1837 as our oldest and 1850, I think, is the most recent. We have a library of Life magazines that came from Lehigh Carbon Community College. They are used here for reference information by particularly students. The content of this display room has been donated by residents of the area who have brought these items back to us to share.
TERRY: Hey, I'm Terry Hausman, I'm in charge of the grounds and the outer buildings here. Been a member since conception and the things on display here are either donated or on loan. Some of the items here have been from the previous owner Sterling Zimmerman. This tractor behind me used to belong to Harold Gehringer who was a member here from the inception, as well on the upper end of this building here there's a display of a room, stove, up there, refrigerator from way back. In the barn, there's pieces of equipment that were horse-drawn and just little items all over on display. Some things are labeled, some are in the process being labeled yet, and if you ever come through the buildings are open whenever we have an event. You're welcome to walk through, if you have any questions, you can ask somebody. If we can help you, we'll explain it to you.
GLORIA: The buildings, when I deeded them to the Historical Society, they were totally empty and so many of the things here are donated. We do have some that are on loan, and that is because our community is very giving.
JUSTINE: Hi, my name is Justine Bachman, I organize and help to curate the monthly genealogy networking sessions here at the historical society. We help people learn how to do their own family research as well as provide guidance with the materials we have in our library. We have a vast amount of photographs, history books, genealogies, tons of personal artifacts that families have donated to us that helps people get excited about their family journey and learning about their history, which we feel is extremely important.
LUCILLE: My name is Lucille Heinselman, I get involved with the Weisenberg/Lowhill Historical Society by documenting the items that are donated to the Historical Society. We receive lots of different items: furniture, farm machinery documents, photographs. We send out thank you notes and deeds that people return to us for these items and I make sure that all those items are entered into our computer. Each item is given an individual number so that we can trace it back to the donor.
JUSTINE: We want to—and we need to—ensure that our history is preserved to the best of our knowledge for the future generations.
ANN: Hello, I'm Ann Wortman, I'm the storekeeper at Werleys Corner, I'm a member of the board, I'm the secretary of the board, and I'm one of the display people here. So this is our store, and as you can see, it's a mixture of display of old items and we have lots of gift items for probably most anyone in the family. Interestingly enough we have part of the original post office on the wall. This is the original store counter, which was actually even cut down to fit in here, and we have in the back corner a wheel of chance from the hotel. So there's something here for everybody's historical interest.
ALTHEA: Hi, I'm Althea Hahn, back in 2016, Gloria asked if I would get a group of women together to do a quilt for the Historical Society for the intention of having it raffled later in the year. This year's quilt is called the Friendship quilt, we will start quilting it in about two weeks and it will actually be raffled off during the cookie and soup sale the beginning of December. I've met a lot of fantastic women, we have good conversations, some of them stay here, some of them go home, so it's been a win for everybody, for the women learning new friendships and also for the Historical Society being able to contribute to them through the raffle.
GLORIA: We have several events throughout the year. We have a Father's Day event coming up in June, last year for the first time we started a farmers market highlighting the local farmers and local artisans in the area. Last year for the first time we started a Halloween event. We are developing a relationship with Plow Boys and they are going to be having their late summer fall event here in August. We also have a Christmas cookie and soup sale, and basket socials, which we have in April and then again in October-November. Two years ago, we started a lending library, which is on our front porch. Hardly a day goes by that we don't have someone stopping and taking books or giving books. There's puzzles in there as well, there's adult books, children's books, and also last winter in November we started a neighbors helping neighbors which was a coat and scarf, hat, gloves offerings that if somebody needed them, they could come in and help themselves.
TERRY: I never cared for history in school but local history, like we have here, I have memories of a lot of things that were used here. My grandparents or I've used it. It's just—preserving the history of the local, it really means a lot to me.
ANN: I enjoy being here at the Historical Society because I am a collector so this is a great place for me to share my interest and learn more and just make everything available for everybody else to enjoy.
ALTHEA: Finding older things, treasuring those older items, sharing them with the younger people who have never seen the items, just keeping the past alive for everybody.
JUSTINE: We are very very thankful for the gifts that we've received and we are very honored that we have these treasures to be able to share and preserve our history.
LUCILLE: It means history. It means preserving our heritage.
GLORIA: I enjoy when we have people come in, they say, "Oh, I never realized all that was here," and so we need to do a better job with being open so that people know what we offer this community.
DON: So there's a long line of lineage that is very important to maintain and send on to future generations.