Catawba Historical Society launches 2024 membership drive

Nov 1, 2023 | Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Port Clinton’s Bataan 4th grade students visit Union Chapel Museum.

The 2024 campaign for new and renewed membership in the Catawba Island Historical Society (CIHS) has begun.

The Society was created as a 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation with tax-exempt status in 2017. Annual membership dues are a major source of the funds used to operate Catawba Museum at Union Chapel and sponsor public presentations by experts on a variety of historical topics.

CIHS services to the community grew significantly this year. In 2022 it touched the lives of over 1,200 people. During the museum’s 2023 mid-May to mid-October operating season, that number exceeded 1,500 between visitors, special events and outreach speaking engagements.

“A big part of the reason for the increase this year,” observed Jane Spriestersbach, Museum Curator, “was that we hosted more private tours for clubs and interest groups. Some of those who stopped to see us included the employees of the Catawba Island Club, Leadership Ottawa County, attendees of the 1973 Port Clinton Class Reunion and residents of the Otterbein SeniorLife Marblehead.

Contact Spriestersbach at 419-967-5363 if your group would like to arrange a tour.

Continued emphasis was also placed on introducing young people to the area’s history. School-age groups who visited the museum included fourth grade students from Port Clinton’s Bataan school, the junior and senior year history classes from Port Clinton High School, and members of the Port Clinton High School football team.

Two speakers presented programs as part of the Historical Society’s biannual cultural lecture series. In May, Molly Sampson, Executive Director of the Maritime Museum of Sandusky, spoke about the role of local marine businesses in supporting the nation’s WW II military efforts. Brad Schwan, owner of Schwan Orchards, shared stories in October about Catawba’s role as one of the Nations’s preeminent growers of peaches.

According to Kathie Holbrook, CIHS Vice President and Chairperson of the group’s Membership Committee, the Historical Society had less than 100 members the year it was created. That number has more than tripled over the last six years, exceeding 335 by Sept. 30.

“Our position from the outset,” said Holbrook, “has been to avoid charging an entrance fee for either the museum or our lectures. We rely, instead, upon memberships in CIHS for much of the income that underwrites our programming.

“People can join at any time, but renewals are typically made by the end of November for the following membership year.”

Two levels of annual Historical Society membership are available: The Historian at $25 and the Curator at $100 per year. A lifetime subscription to the Society’s Council of Nabagon can also be acquired for a one-time investment of $1,000.

The CIHS museum is in Union Chapel on E. Porter Street at the north end of Catawba Island. The building was built in 1888 as a Sunday school and non-denominational house of worship. Catawba Island Township accepted ownership from the Chapel’s trustees in 1992 and makes the building available to the Historical Society for a nominal yearly lease payment.

More information will be included in the CIHS fall/winter newsletter. Those with interest can also learn about becoming a member by calling 419-967-5363 or on the web at

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June 2024

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