Tim Woodruff and Randy Smith are some of the longest serving volunteers at the Hilliard Historical Society. For decades, the two have held multiple positions within the organization and completed every job possible, including building a museum and maintaining the historic village at Weaver Park.
The Hilliard Historical Society is a non-profit organization that connects people to the history of Hilliard through a historical village, library, and museum. Since the society was incorporated in 1966, volunteers have done everything from re-constructing and repairing historical buildings to creating museum displays, hosting and planning events, serving as docents, managing a library, and performing research on local history.
According to President Woodruff, the historical society would not exist without its dedicated volunteers. “They are the lifeline. There would be no Hilliard Historical Society, and a lot of lost history, without them.”
Smith, a volunteer, currently focuses on digital research and library work but has worked on everything from grounds keeping and museum set-up to event marketing and website updates since he became a member in 1975.
When asked what he is most proud of, Smith said it’s the authentic buildings from the Hilliard area that he’s had a part in making accessible to the community.
“When you touch something here, it’s real. We don’t have any reproductions,” Smith said. The historic village includes an original granary, barn, train station, log cabin, one-room schoolhouse, and church, all originally built in the 1800s and later moved to Weaver Park.
“What we have here in Hilliard is really in a league of its own. We run a village, library, genealogy society, museum. We do it all ourselves, and we enjoy it,” Smith said.
Marilyn Evans has only been volunteering with the society for seven years, but what she lacks in time she makes up for in knowledge. The retired Baldwin Wallace University librarian of nearly 50 years now spends her time organizing the historical library and researching genealogy, plat maps, and land records to uncover Hilliard history.
“It’s certainly different than being in college libraries,” Evans said. “I get to do a lot more digging and looking at original documents here. It’s like a game. I just have to go and find it.”
Evans’ passion for history was made apparent by a display of books for sale on the table before her. The society has published six books over the years, some of which Evans has contributed to.
“Whether someone is looking for some written family history or real-life artifacts, we can help them learn about their history,” said Evans.
The Hilliard Historical Society was founded and built by passionate community members, and current members hope to see that level of passion continue for generations to come.
According to Woodruff, their biggest challenge is no longer building the history, but rather preserving it by finding new volunteers to tell their story.
“We’ve had extremely dedicated volunteers over the years doing whatever it takes to maintain Hilliard’s history,” said Woodruff. “Now, we need some new volunteers and society members who can dedicate their time and talents to preserve what we’ve built.”
The Historical Village at Weaver Park (4100 Columbia Street) is open to the public Thursdays from 6 – 8 p.m. and Sundays from 1 – 4 p.m.
Library (5274 Norwich Street) is open to the public
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Visit hilliardohiohistoricalsociety.com to become a volunteer and for a list of upcoming events, tours and building rentals.