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The Jersey County Historical Society recently announced the return of Dearly Departed, its annual exhibition that explores the funerary, mourning, and embalming practices of the latter decades of the 1800s as observed in Jersey County and the surrounding region.
The historic Cheney house will serve as the backdrop of the exhibit, with tour dates being Oct. 8, 15, 22, and 29. Tour times are 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., with each tour lasting just under an hour. Tour groups are limited to 10 persons per tour, so calling ahead to reserve a spot is recommended. Tickets must be paid for by cash or check only, upon arrival for the tour.
Board member Connor Ashlock shares that this year’s exhibit is revamped, including new artifacts never before seen by the public.
“The Alexander Funeral Home generously loans their extensive Gubser Family Collection to us every year for this exhibition,” stated Ashlock. “We’ve never been able to showcase as much as we’d like, but this year, thanks to a little reconceptualization, we’re able to incorporate so much more.”
Coffins, embalming equipment, authentic mourning attire, art made from human hair and so much more will be able to be viewed by the public— all bearing a connection to Jersey County’s past.
“The tour incorporates the Gubser collection in addition to pieces from the society’s personal collection,” Ashlock said. “Originally, the purpose of the exhibit was to highlight this aspect of our past through the contextual lens of the death of Prentiss Dana Cheney in 1900, but we’ve decided to go a different route with this year’s exhibition to keep it interesting and more relatable to the various family histories of this region’s past.”
The exhibit follows after the society’s annual Apple Festival, which falls on Oct. 1 this year, and Ashlock remarked how this exhibit is just another way for folks to get engaged with the Halloween season.
“With Hocus Pocus 2 coming out this year, much to the excitement of a lot of millennials, plus the Apple Festival and other regional festivals that usher in the harvest time, this exhibit is another way for everyone to engage in their ‘spooky’ side while learning a little history along the way,” Ashlock said.
The Cheney house is located on the society grounds at 601 North State Street in Jerseyville. Parking is available behind the house alongside the museum. For ticket prices, event information, or to reserve your spot, call Connor at 618-946-0767.
Weekday evening tours are available by appointment. For more information, or to stay up-to-date with the society, follow the Jersey County Historical Society on Facebook and follow them on Instagram under the handle @jerseycountyhistory.