Thursday, April 12, 2012

Education • Young and old learn about the early days.

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Layton museum preserves Davis County history
Education • Young and old learn about the early days.
By carol lindsay

Published: April 11, 2012 10:37PM
Layton Heritage Museum curator Bill Sanders loves his job: He is a collector, a researcher, an organizer, a tour guide and a detective.

He never knows what the day will bring. In March, someone donated two trunks found in a grandfather’s basement. The old trunks contained World War I and World War II uniforms plus souvenirs and memorabilia from the wars, including an authentic Nazi swastika flag. Sanders had never seen such a flag except in books and called the family to make sure they wanted to part with something so valuable. They wanted the museum to keep it.

“I am not sure how I will ever display it, but it is a rare artifact and part of history,” Sanders said of the flag.

For 14 years — almost half of the museum’s life — Sanders has been the keeper of Layton and Kaysville history. Tucked between a city park and the Layton City police department, the museum has far too many items to display at once. Sanders is constantly changing out the exhibits, so visitors never know exactly what they will see. Currently, it features a display based on the Davis School District’s centennial celebration.

After residents submitted nominations for favorite teachers in the county before 1945, Sanders went on the hunt for pictures and information about all the nominees. He searched yearbooks and phone books and tracked down descendants of teachers and coaches who had passed on. Residents and former residents donated photos, desks, bulletin boards and clothes from the era to add to the exhibit. Someone donated a 1950s-era hand-cranked ditto machine.

Even the location of the museum is historic, on what was once Verland Park military housing. Verland Park was built as a support system for Hill Field Air Force Base during WWII.

Sanders has arranged the museum so visitors can get a feel for what it was like to live in the area 100 years ago.

“We cover the founding of Utah. … We have a section that shows the founding of the First National Bank of Layton and the sugar mill. We have a store setup. We have a 1903 automobile that has been loaned to us from the Morgan family in Layton for the last 30 years,” said Sanders. “We even have a pickled sugar beet that we store in vinegar.”

The history of health care in Davis County also gets some space in the museum. The first Davis School District physician was Sumner Gleason, who began working for the district in 1910, treating students’ medical and dental ailments. Yet Gleason is better known for his horticultural skills and became famous for his peaches. He grafted peaches in a quest to find one suited for Utah’s climate and eventually came up with the Gleason Alberta peach.

“Many of the orchards in Davis County still use his peaches,” said Sanders.

The museum has a little something for everyone. Hayden Pedersen, 9, brought his father and brother to see his favorite object.

“I came here for Scouts and I wanted my dad and brother to see it. My favorite part is a cannon ball stuck in a tree. It looks really cool,” said Hayden.

The museum also has computerized history programs for people whose ancestors were residents of Davis County.

“Files of pioneer history have been donated and we have a picture archive. We are continually making copies for families. … People doing genealogy are always looking for information, and we have it,” said Sanders.

Roselyn Slade of Kaysville, who is on the museum’s board, loves learning about the area’s history.

“We call it a regional museum because when Kaysville was first organized it was called the Kaysville Ward and it went clear to the Weber River, so all the early days are Kaysville history. People come from all over whose ancestors were early settlers and we have their history and what they’ve written and their pictures. It is just wonderful,” said Slade.

How to help

The Layton Heritage Museum is soliciting donations of items dating to the 1950s and ’60s. “Artifacts from that time frame are the ones being lost. The kids have to go in and clean out their parents’ house and they might find things from the 1950s and 1960s and their immediate reaction is ‘This is junk.’ We are trying to preserve stuff from that time period. There are a lot of treasures that should be kept,” said museum curator Bill Sanders.

© 2012 The Salt Lake Tribune
Layton museum preserves Davis County history
By carol lindsay

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