PERU - The town of Peru has a rich history, but it's one historians are looking for more evidence of, said Ron Allen.
Allen and his wife, Carol, who serve as the town's historians, said information was recently posted on the town's Web site, www.perutown.com, seeking information about historical artifacts of interest to the town.
"There are things that we have been seeking for quite some time and we decided to put a request on the Web site to see what it brings forth," he said.
Allen said he credits the push to find more historical items to the late Addie Shields, who served as Clinton County historian for 30 years.
"One of her pet peeves, so to speak, was this entire area is very rich in Native American artifacts, yet we have absolutely nothing - no examples of arrowheads, spear points, knives or any of the tools they used," said Allen. "We're talking about thousands of years of history and nothing to represent it."
That's why the Allens are determined to find enough artifacts to develop an exhibit.
Native American artifacts can be easily-obtained in other parts of the country, said Allen, but having an exhibit of artifacts found locally would make more sense, he added.
"Unless they're intrinsically-related to the Peru area, they really don't mean much to Peru," said Allen.
When deciding what items they'd like to see come forth to be displayed by the historian's office, Allen said there's also been a renewed interest in one-room schoolhouses that were once part of the town.
"Someone recently purchased an old schoolhouse here and was interested in the history of it," said Allen. "That request prompted us to search for photos of all of the 19 schoolhouses that were in the town."
Allen said he has very few photos but knows "there are more out there." He also would like to find photos of the town's early starch and tanning industry and stone industrial buildings such as in the Lapham Mills area.
"None of those buildings are remaining. Hopefully, there are photos floating around of those buildings, especially," said Allen.
Historical artifacts, in many cases, may be right under someone's nose, said Allen.
"They could be in the attic or the garage in boxes," he said.
Regardless of where they are, he hopes their owners would be willing to share them with the historian's office - and not throw them out if they aren't of interest to them.
"I've heard of incidents where someone has old photos in storage, they die, and younger family members have no idea what the photos are," said Allen. "They look at them and don't know what the pictures are of, so they toss them and they end up in the landfill. It's a crying shame to lose all that history."
"It brings tears to my eyes when I think about it," he added.
Allen said he's also heard of local historical items being sold in auctions to people out of the area, with the items never to return.
"It's things like that that make us determined to keep these items in Peru and preserve them for future generations," he said.
Those with information about historical artifacts of interest to the town historian's office may contact the Allens at 643-2745, ext. 113, or 561-0038.
The Allens are also looking for Peru Central School yearbooks from 1939-1947, 1964, 1965, 1980 and 2003, as well as any other items related to the town's history.