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Douglas County Museum Celebrates 30 Years

By Sally Hicks

Thoughts of yesteryear came to mind as colorful quilts flapped in an August breeze on the porch of the Wilson House at 401 East Washington Avenue on Saturday, August 24th. Ice cold lemonade courtesy of the local Town & Country Supermarket and sweet treats provided by museum volunteers were on hand to help celebrate the 30th birthday of the Douglas County Museum!

The celebration began on Saturday, Aug. 17, in conjunction with a quilt show at the Ava Art Guild. The event continued throughout the week as KKOZ interviewed Sharon Sanders, longtime member of the Douglas County Historical Society, and author Tim Ritter who has deep roots in Douglas County.

As part of their annual Open House on Saturday, this year’s celebration at the museum included a quilt show, and a bounce house for the kids to enjoy, along with free tours. Museum volunteers presented three free seminars on genealogy research and preservation. These were followed by featured speaker, author Tim Ritter, who lead visitors along on his journey to piece together the events of a fateful night in 1959 that took the lives of his grandfather Orville Ritter, along with Neil Ritter and his infant son Gary. Although Tim’s grandmother Sarah and Neil’s wife Virginia survived the tragic event, they suffered physical and mental scars as a result. Mr. Ritter is currently working on a book, Sarah Burning, that will tell the story of the ‘Ritter Fire’ and how the citizens of Ava supported the family in its aftermath.

The celebration ended with the announcement of Margaret Rosseau as the winner of the beautiful quilt embroidered, pieced, and machine quilted by museum volunteers which was raffled off to raise funds to help maintain the museum.

The Douglas County Historical Society continues to strive to preserve Douglas County history for future generations. Monthly meetings are held at the museum every third Monday of the month at 6:30 pm, and everyone is invited to attend. The museum is open each Saturday from 10am to 2pm.