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Pioneer Day gives attendees lesson in history

GENOA – For Holly Quinn’s children, Sunday was a perfect day to step away from technology and play games of days gone by.

Quinn brought her daughter and son, ages 3 and 5, to the Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Museum’s 29th annual Pioneer Day for the first time Sunday, after her sister, a Genoa resident, recommended it. They spent their afternoon filling cloth bags with corn kernels to make bean bags, learning about the past and meeting Civil War reenactors.

“It’s been interesting,” Quinn, of Elgin, said. “The kids are amazed by the games. They said, ‘What do you mean they didn’t have iPads?’ ”

Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society president Orrin Merritt hoped many families could walk away from the event with a greater understanding of their history. Merritt, a fifth generation Genoa resident, said it’s always special to have people come out to the museum and learn about their history, and Pioneer Day is a good reminder for many people.

“If we don’t have it, people won’t know about these things,” Merritt said of the many reenactors who volunteered their time and skills to the event Sunday, and the many displays that were posted.

Trevor Steinbach, a medical reenactor of the 17th Corps Field Hospital, demonstrated how to extract a bullet from a plastic leg, and talked about Civil War era medical equipmet and medicines.

“It’s great to see their reactions when they learn about the practices,” Steinbach said.

Merritt said he enjoys his work at the museum because of the different topics he learns about as people coming in searching for information about their family, home and more.

“I love helping people that come in with questions,” Merritt said. “Sometimes we have the answers. Sometimes those answers come later. But we always do our best to get them.”

Merritt said he hopes people take time to remember their legacy.

“Genoa back in the day was really thriving with merchandising, and people gathering throughout town,” Merritt said. “It’s good to remember or learn about those days.”

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