November Happenings at the History Center


Bartow, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2017) – Journey into Polk history this month at the Polk County History Center. The following programs and events are open to the public and free of charge:

  • November’s Family Program – Learn how a dog became a soldier

o    Sgt. Stubby was a decorated dog soldier in WWI and a true American hero. He helped American Troops in France during the war and became their mascot. Learn more about Sgt. Stubby and his bravery while creating your own unique Christmas ornament.

  • Nov. 2, 5 p.m. – Opening Night of Festival of Wreaths and Silent Auction

o   Take in the sights and sounds of the season and enjoy the Seventh Annual Festival of Wreaths. More than 40 wreaths will be on display, decorated through the generosity of area businesses, organizations and individuals. In addition, opening night will feature a performance by the Frostproof Middle-Senior High School Choral group. This talented group will perform a-cappella from the second floor rotunda at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The group, under the direction of Jonathan Carter, performed by invitation at New York City’s Carnegie Hall during the summer of 2017.

In addition to creating a holiday atmosphere for visitors to enjoy, the wreaths on display at the History Center are available for purchase through an online silent auction with proceeds benefiting History Center programming. View photographs of the wreaths and place your bid Take home a unique or elegant wreath from a wide selection of wreath styles to embellish your door just in time for Christmas.  Wreaths will be on display until Thursday, Dec. 14. 

  • Nov. 4, 11 a.m. – Oak Hill Cemetery Tour

o   Regularly scheduled walking tours of historic Oak Hill Cemetery resume this month with an emphasis on pioneer families and World War I veterans interred at the cemetery. The tour starts at the History Center with a short walk of approximately one mile to include historic landmarks along the route to the cemetery. The cemetery tour is offered at 11 a.m. the first Saturday of every month, November through April.

  • Nov. 11, 1 p.m. – New Temporary Exhibit Opening, “Together We Win: Polk County’s World War I Contributions”

o   This exhibit features Polk residents who served in World War I. The exhibit will include:

  • A display of World War I propaganda posters
  • Photographs from the archives showing Polk people and places during the war
  • Never before-displayed World War I artifacts from the collection archives
  • A collection of original letters written by local soldiers, addressed to the Bartow Drug Co., to let friends know, here at home, where they were stationed and how they were doing
  • An informative history of the local division of the Florida National Guard, the 2nd Florida Regiment, known during the war as the Dixie Division
  • Biographies and achievements of Polk dignitaries who played a crucial role in World War I – including Gen. (then Capt.) James Van Fleet, Lt. Gen. (then Maj.) Albert Blanding, U.S. Senator (then 1st Lt. and Judge Advocate General) Spessard Holland and Dr. Knowles Oglesby, the first Bartow native to be killed in action during the war
  • Nov. 14, 4 p.m. – Launch Ceremony for Polk Proud History Digital Format

o   Through grant funding provided by the State of Florida Library and Service Technology Act, all issues of the Polk County Historical Quarterly and the publication’s present day version known as Polk Proud History, have been converted to an electronic, searchable, online format. Join us at the History Center for the “launch party” of this digital platform for the historical and genealogical library. The Quarterlies have been a valuable resource tool for researchers since 1974 due in large part to the efforts of Mrs. Freddie Wright, Director Emeritus of the Polk County Historical Association, whose dedication and commitment will also be honored at the ceremony.

  • Nov. 17, 5 to 6:45 p.m. – Extended Holiday Hours at the History Center

o   To coincide with the Main Street Bartow Magic on Main Street activity, the History Center will offer extended hours until 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, followed by the lighting of the tree by Santa Claus at 7 p.m. on the south lawn of the History Center.

  • Nov. 18, 11 a.m. – Architectural Tour

o   Join us for a family-friendly architectural tour of the History Center and learn more about neoclassical architecture, the construction of the building and the stories behind the iconic Old Polk County Courthouse. Special emphasis will be placed on the Mason Cornerstone. The architectural tour is at 11 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month.

  • November 21, 12:15 to 1 p.m. – Lunch and Learn – “Medical Services in Polk County – People, Places and Peculiarities,” by History Center staff, Madonna Davis, Research & Genealogy Historian and Maria Trippe, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions

o   Step inside the early 20th century office of Polk County Doctor Frank Peacock, and go back in time to experience medicine the way our ancestors did. Do you know what ailment was treated by the frying of five frogs? How to cure the chicken pox? For what purpose did our ancestors use brown paper and vinegar? Learn the answers to these questions and more, and take a look at unusual medical-related artifacts from the History Center’s archives.

o   Book Club recommended reading for the month of November is, “Stubby the War Dog:

The True Story of World War I’s Bravest Dog” by Sibert Honor Award- Winning Author Ann Bausum.

“Stubby the War Dog,” tells the story of a young American soldier, Pvt. J. Robert Conroy and his companion Sgt. Stubby, a stray dog, who served bravely alongside him during WWI. Sgt. Stubby used his keen sense of smell to detect poisonous gases, and his alertness to the sounds of battle to warn soldiers about bombs that he could hear coming in. He located wounded soldiers on the battlefield and stayed with them until medical help could arrive. Highly honored and decorated for his bravery, Sgt. Stubby became an American hero. His body is now on display at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

  • History Center Holiday Closures

o   The History Center will be closed on Friday, Nov. 10 in observance of Veterans Day. The History Center will re-open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.

o   The History Center will be closed on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 23 and 24 for the Thanksgiving holiday. The History Center will re-open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25.

The Polk County History Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 100 E. Main St. in Bartow. Visit or call (863) 534-4386 for more information on exhibits and programming.  All programs and events are free and open to the public.



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