With the help of Simpson Door and the Museum Supporters, we have met our goal to pay for our new building before the end of the year! It is ours, free and clear. Now comes the big work!

Come Visit Us: 

Saturday: 12pm to 4pm
Sunday: 12pm to 4pm
(and by appointment: 541-660-3633)

Admission is Free!

Mission Statement

The mission of the McCleary Historical Society is to serve as the collective historical memory of the City of McCleary and to serve the community as a cultural center.

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1 week ago

McCleary Historical Society
A SIMPLE GESTURE OF LIGHT There's a certain slant of light, On winter afternoons That oppresses, like the weight Of cathedral tunes. Heavenly hurt it gives us; We can find no scar, But internal difference Where the meanings, are.--Emily DickinsonBy Lisa Patterson--Daily World Writer McCleary--Tonight, angels will once again embark on a journey to the McCleary Cemetery and leave glowing halos of light on every grave. Ordinary brown paper sacks will be anchored with sand. A single votive candle lit just before the sun settles behind the horizon, left to burn throughout the winter night to wed with the stars. On this night, the cemetery is neither dark, nor cold. Not in this small, tight-knit town, where people take the time to do good things for their neighbors--and those they never even shook hands with. The gesture is simple, the meaning great. The joy spreads beyond the parameters of this tiny timber town. "It makes Christmas last a little bit longer," says Jennie Reed, whose son, David Reed, was killed by a drunk driver at 18. On Sept. 8, 1981, he had just been accepted to the University of Washington and pledged to join a fraternity when his life was snatched away on a strip of I-5 near Tacoma. David's grave will be one of the 990 that will glow tonight. "It's becoming a tradition," Reed said. "A time when families get together. A nice time to bond. The first year I went by myself. Now my son, grandchildren and husband join me. It's a family affair. "It's a holiday tradition that includes David, too. He was a "social guy" and his mother can feel him smiling. The idea was born from a dying woman's wish--"Please keep my grave looking pretty," Dianne Dotson told her sister, Kathy Elofson. Dotson, 49, died of lung cancer 12 years ago and her sister has been staying true to her request ever since. And with time it has become more beautiful than anyone could have envisioned, she said. Elofson lit a luminary on Christmas Eve for her sister, and one for her father who is buried nearby. Then she lit a few more for some friends who had passed away. "People started asking around town, who was doing it," Elofson said. "It looked beautiful, and some people wanted to do the same thing for their loved ones." More and more luminaries have been placed on the graves. And, last year, every grave got one--even those of settlers left unmarked. Now not forgotten. Today, the McCleary Cemetery is run by the city but it's believed to have begun as a burial ground for the laborers of the first Henry McCleary Timber Company, most of them immigrants from Greece. There are 20 unmarked and unrecorded graves that exist in the old section of the cemetery, but they, too, are now being remembered. The owner of the McCleary Pharmacy donated the candles. Random checks for $5 or $10 arrive in her mailbox. "One woman called me from Montana," Elofson, said. "She heard we put a candle on her father's grave. She wanted to say, "Thank you." "Sharon Geer's husband, Norman, died 16 years ago from cancer. The former trucker wanted to be buried at the McCleary Cemetery where the big rigs roll by. Placing the candles on the graves is a, "spiritual experience," Mrs. Geer and the others say. On lazy Christmas mornings, when the McCleary firefighters pick up the candle-filled bags, some are still burning. Folks swear Old Man Winter has never rained the flames away. The luminaries make the cemetery a warmer place on Christmas Eve. The amazing sight draws streams of cars. It's one of those moments where you cannot only see the spirit of the holidays, but truly feel it. "When your doing it, it feels good. We usually do the graves of our relatives first," Geer said. "And then, we spend the evening saying 'hello' to a lot of old friends."--The Daily World, December 24, 2003 ... See MoreSee Less
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Due to the increasing numbers of Covid cases in Geays Harbor County we have closed the McCleary Museum for the rest of January for the safety of our volunteers and visitors. ... See MoreSee Less
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There will be NO MEETING on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.Canceling due to high numbers of Covid in the county. We will look at the numbers again in 2 weeks and may meet on the 25th - if not in person, then a ZOOM meeting. Keep safe. Linda ThompsonPresident ... See MoreSee Less
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We have the furnace on. Come inside where it is warm. We opened at 12 noon. We close at 4 today and every weekend. ... See MoreSee Less
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