The Trustees of the Wayne County Historical Society (WCHS) are pleased to announce that its 2018 Agriculture Award People Who Make a Difference in Wayne County Agriculture will be given to Lewis B. and Linda Dix Lee of Preston Township. Their contributions to WCHS and to the agriculture community in Wayne County have been going on for decades.
Lewis B. Lee and Linda Grace Dix Lee both grew up on dairy farms in northern Wayne; Lew in Orson and Linda in Pleasant Mount. Although their careers in Harrisburg were in government research (Lew) and as an elementary music educator (Linda), they never lost their connection to the land and to their family members who stayed on the local farms.
Retiring to Wayne County in 1999, Linda became a Trustee for the Wayne County Historical Society in 2002, a position which she held for 15 years.
Linda served in many volunteer positions as a Trustee, but her most active role was as chairperson of the WCHS Agriculture Committee. Husband Lew was always at Linda’s side with his hammer in his hand, ready with his truck to haul the next heavy piece into the Farm Museum, be it an old cook stove, old cupboards or a kitchen table and chairs.
The couple were always inventing new ideas to promote Wayne County agriculture. Imagine Lew’s surprise when he learned that we would be hauling the gigantic Spencer Steam Tractor back to Wayne County in 2003!
In 2012, Lew was elected to the Board since he was already doing so much for WCHS. Lew served officially for 4 years and unofficially for 11 years as Linda’s co-chair.
Together, as a team, Lew and Linda made many positive changes to make the WCHS Agriculture Committee more prominent and to promote agriculture in Wayne County using presentations, projects, exhibits and press releases.
The innovative changes made on their watch include:
2003 – The start of the award program People Who Make a Difference in Wayne County Agriculture. Twenty people have been honored since 2003. Linda and Lew will now be the recipients of the very award they helped to create.
2003 – The return of the historic Spencer Steam Tractor back to Wayne County using Tim Hall’s roll-back truck. Linda spent many hours on attempts to organize its restoration. This included raising funds to cover the cost of purchasing the tractor, finding homes for the tractor as it was moved many times, and lining up volunteers. A new committee is now working on the restoration of the tractor, but today’s work would not be possible without their foresight to bring the tractor back to Wayne County.
2005 - Linda Lee and Sally Talaga spent over 100 hours cataloguing vintage farm implements at the Farm Museum which is located at the Wayne County Fairgrounds. The exhibit in the Farm Museum was enhanced with new labels to allow for easier identification of the farm items.
2007 – Linda and Lew cleaned out the storage area, secured a trailer for storage of excess items, built and furnished a farmhouse kitchen in the Farm Museum. The construction of the kitchen was a work of intense effort mostly done in the hottest two weeks of 2007 just before the fair opened. Lew Lee and Frank Ward were the builders. They also sponsored Homecoming Day at the fair, complete with entertainers and square dancing.
2003 to 2016 - Linda joined the Speaker’s Bureau and took her program Farmer’s Daughter: Growing Up on a Farm in Wayne County in the mid-1900s to many places, singing with her autoharp, asking audience members to identify farm objects from days gone by and to reminisce about her life on a farm. She also organized a program on the Spencer Steam Tractor to tell that story to audiences.
2012- The Farmer’s Daughter Boutique was created to offer home-crafted items as well as pre-loved items for sale. Linda has made hundreds of jars of homemade jam, and still donates her hand-crafted rugs and other items to sell, benefiting WCHS. The purpose of the Boutique was to bring more people into the Farm Museum during fair week while bringing profits to WCHS. Wildly successful, the Boutique is still in operation in 2018!
2012 - The donation of the McKane buggy for the Farm Museum was accepted, proudly on exhibit as an excellent example of transportation before motor cars. And the entrance to the Farm Museum was reconfigured to enhance the traffic flow of museum patrons.
Annually, Linda and Lew cleaned and prepared the Farm Museum for fair week and put the museum “to bed” after the fair by storing items for the winter. They organized and managed over 36 fair volunteers each year, so the Farm Museum could be staffed. Farm Museum volunteers greet the public, answer questions regarding the exhibits, take a head count and sell boutique items. All these projects required many hours at the computer writing letters to the volunteers and writing articles for local newspapers and the WCHS newsletter to announce the Boutique and Farm Museum schedule.
WCHS thanks Lew and Linda Lee for their countless hours spent promoting agriculture in our area and invites everyone to attend the award presentation at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, August 3 at the Small Stage at the Wayne County Fair Grounds.
For more information, phone the WCHS Museum at 570-253-3240.