"This is an SOS signal," said Ted Heineman. "The Poland Township Historical Society is a ship foundering in a sea of indifference. Most of the crew has abandoned the ship while the six or seven remaining are slowly losing their grip. If the ship sinks, so will 200 years of Town One, Range One heritage be lost."
This was a plea sent out in a letter to the editor over the weekend. Heineman, a historian with the Historical Society was seeking to bring in new members to help continue the entity that is trying hard to preserve Poland history. He said at one time the society had a good-sized membership that was actively involved at the Little Red School House, a preserved one-room school that was restored to showcase education in the early years of the township.
Over the past decade, the membership of the society decreased to the present seven, who are having a hard time keeping things going.
"At one time we had an energetic group," Heineman said. "We used to have our historic homes tours that served as a fundraiser, but that is difficult to arrange with just a handful of members."
Of even more importance is the amount of historic records that the society has accumulated. Trustee Sue Holloway has been trying to go through them, but is finding the task overwhelming.
"I got involved with going through the records," she said, "but with my church involvement I am prevented from putting in the time needed."
She said the Little Red School house is a historic structure that wasn't meant to become a museum. She said there is not a lot of room for the box upon box of documents and artifacts regarding Poland Township history to be stored. Present society members and trustees are trying to go through the boxes to eliminate items that are not necessary to keep.
"There are a lot of records in cardboard boxes at the Little Red School House," Heineman said. "There is not a lot being done about it. Over the past years there have been dedicated people preserving those records. It should be preserved."
He is concerned that the documents could be damaged in the basement and wishes that more would get involved to help the society work on the problem.
Besides the records, he is also concerned about events like the tour of homes. Last year the society didn't schedule the event because there is too much involved in putting it together, more work than the small membership could handle. In spite of the numbers, Holloway said there is a plan to bring another tour together within a year.
"We are hoping to have another tour of homes," she said.
Both Heineman and Holloway agree that it is not just their own society, but all the historic groups across the nation.
"Times are changing," Holloway said. "People are just not involved with history anymore."
As the new year took hold, the society members agreed that the call needed to go out to increase membership and get more younger people involved. They are hoping to see some new faces at the next society meeting set for 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the Little Red School House, located at the intersection of U.S. 224 and Struthers Road.
"Where is the younger generation when they are needed to help man the oars and set the sails?" Heineman said. "Answer this distress call and save our past."