During 1935-1941, Gene Boeker spent six years working at New Salem State Park. Part of the time, he assisted Dr. Pratt in researching public records and documents sifting out material pertaining to Abraham Lincoln and New Salem.
As pieces of Oakford history came to light, Gene began taking notes and obtaining copies of old photographs.
World War II and Korea interrupted his research, but when Gene returned he again gleaned information by writing letters and also making tapes of oldtimers recalling Oakford as they knew it.
The bulk of this volume is dependent on Gene Boeker's 30 year collection of material.
They Left Their Mark presents Oakford's history in words and pictures; Boeker's Museum presents it in objects and documents.
Housed in the old Maltby Annex Building, now Boeker's Annex, is a more tangible evidence of Gene's interest in the town's history.
While the first chapter of this book deals with mound builders and later Indians such as Shick Shack, in the museum you can see thousands of arrowheads and other Indian artifacts including a cooking vessel perhaps used by Shick Shack himself.
From the Robinson Mill's era, there's a wooden plane, a brass bucket, bean kettle and broadaxe. From the Bobtown school, a real puncheon seat.
From a little later era, there's the oxen yoke actually used to tow Watkin's Ferry. Some of the old time businesses are represented too, with a cheese cutter from the Kendall Store and souvenir plates from Maltby's, Louie Brauer's and Kendall's. The original barber pole is there, too.
The collection of animal traps include one of each of the old trappers, including Bobby Skaggs mentioned in the "They Left Their Special Mark" section. Included is Bobby's powder horn, his handmade boat paddle, and his dog whistle made of a small animal horn. Old gun collections and houseware collections depict an early Oakford no longer remembered.
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