Families donate artifacts to veterans museum
ESTELL MANOR - The Estell Manor Historical Society held a special donating event on July 9, where people were welcome to come in and donate their families’ war related artifacts for the future Atlantic County Veterans Museum, which will be housed in Estell Manor Mansion.
“We are hoping for a September opening,” said Carl Farrell, a member of the Atlantic County Veterans Museum committee. The committee has been collecting artifacts for years and this event was one of many that have been held throughout the county in order to collect even more historical items.
Artifacts have been donated from as far back as the Revolutionary War. According to Farrell, the museum will be set up so that when visitors walk through the doors, they will first see the Revolutionary War artifacts, then they will move chronologically through the wars. There also will be rotating displays at the museum, with key displays out at all times.
One of people who came to Saturday’s event was Jeanette Hainins. She brought in some of her great-uncle James Edward Steelman’s World War I artifacts, which included photos, letters and his uniform hat.
When asked why she was donating the artifacts, Hainins said, “There was no one else in the family. To me, it was good, but it is time to pass it on.”
Employees of the Atlantic County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs were there to help organize and catalog the donated artifacts.
“Anything of a historical nature that involves the county, we have a hand in,” said Cindy Mason-Purdie, administrator of the Atlantic County Office of Culture and Heritage Affairs.
The idea for placing the museum inside Estell Manor Mansion came from Elmer Ripley of the Hamilton Township Historical Society. “It sat vacant for years,” Ripley said. “I got the idea because the veterans cemetery is there. It helped to save the building and the history behind it.”
“I want my fellow Americans to learn about their history,” said Marco Polo Smigliani, a veterans’ advocate, who is involved in several veterans organizations, including the Veterans Museum. He immigrated to America more than 50 years ago from Italy and served in the military during the Vietnam War.
The Veterans Museum will be located at 109 Route 50 in Estell Manor. If you are interested in donating any war-related artifacts, call Cindy Mason-Purdie of the Atlantic County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs at (609) 625-2776 ext. 6314.