In 1999, when the Fulton Historical Society was approached by the Fulton City Council in regard to managing a museum in the Martin house bequeathed to the city, the first action was to consult the Illinois State Historical Society for advice.
That organization not only strongly encouraged the local society to accept the offer, they also provided expertise in establishing the policies and procedures to set the course of action.
Twelve years later, the original goals have all been met as prescribed.
“We started with an empty 10-room house,” Barbara Mask, president of the Fulton Historical Society, said. One of the recommendations by the ISHA was to exercise patience and adhere to the collection policy to only accept artifacts and memorabilia that had an intrinsic value to Fulton’s history.
“That was a challenge in the first several years as our members were eager to have displays and items to view,” Mask said.
Now, nine rooms have artifacts.
The Wayne Bastian Memorial Resource Room is the most treasured. He was a well-known and highly respected historian of Whiteside County; and especially his hometown of Fulton.
Resources include cemetery records, yearbooks, microfilm and bound copies of the Fulton Journals, census records, and family genealogy information. The Fulton Historical Society sponsors a genealogy forum at the museum each year during the Dutch Days Festival.
The Fulton Museum is open from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday and any other time by appointment by calling (815) 589-3809 or (815) 589-4108. Members enjoy sharing the vast collection of photos and items manufactured by local businesses.
“I think the Martins would be pleased with the Fulton (Martin House) Museum,” Mask said.