BELEN—A lesson in local history will soon be told by the people who have held onto the treasures of the past.

The Valencia County Historical Society and the Belen Harvey House Museum are collaborating to host Valencia County’s Historical Road Show. The event will be held from 2-4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19, at the Belen Harvey House Museum, where people are invited to bring personal antique and historic items.

Kathleen Pickering, director of the Belen Public Library and a member of the Valencia County Historical Society, said unlike “Antique’s Roadshow” on PBS, local historians will evaluate, not offer monetary appraisals.

Frances Zeller, the coordinator at the Belen Harvey House Museum, stands by an old, wooden ice box that was donated by Belenite David Cordova. (Clara Garcia | News-Bulletin photo)

“During our board meetings, board members will often bring in something interesting, especially Michael Jaramillo,” Pickering said. “When he would bring these things, we would look at it, talk about it and someone else would add something to it.”

It was then that the board had the idea of opening it up to the public.

“History lives in people, and until we can engage people with their own history, we have no hope of preserving the history of the area,” Pickering said.

This show is an opportunity for people to realize that we all preserve history in our own ways by digging around their houses, and finding historical items, such as photographs, documents, household items and more.

Pickering hopes people will find and take nearly anything to the show that tells a story.

“That’s the neat thing to me about history is that all of those things together add up to what we experience,” she said.

“We’d like people’s oldest and most favorite treasures, and something that will raise eyebrows and spark questions and conversations,” said local historian John Taylor. “We hope that we will have lots of exhibitors and curious members of the public to experience some of Valencia County’s most personal history.”

Taylor and fellow historian Richard Melzer will be evaluating each item, and will be “judging” them in three different categories — People’s Choice, Most Historical and Most Unique.

Most items will be accepted and evaluated, but it will be limited to items that can fit through the door and no firearms. Nothing will be sold or left at the museum.

Frances Zeller, the museum’s coordinator, said while this is the first Historical Road Show, the museum has been host to different types of historical exhibits.

“We want to hear the stories,” Zeller said. “Personally, I’m hoping people will bring in something related to the Harvey House. A few years ago, Darleen Aragon, a former city councilor, brought in two bar stools that were original to the Harvey House.”

“When this place closed, they had a big sale,” she said. “People from around here bought stuff, so there are probably more bar stools around, tables and pieces of this or that – even dishes.”

Zeller has something special she wants the historians to evaluate. Belen native David Cordova donated a large, wooden ice box to the museum.

“It came out of an old meat market south of here in Jarales from the same era (of the Belen Harvey House),” Zeller said. “He’s going to try and get me some more information together so we can put the pieces together.”

Zeller said the box was handed down from Cordova’s wife’s family, and she’s only been given the watered-down version of its history.

Pickering and Zeller said while someone might not know the exact history of a piece that’s been in grandma’s cabinet for decades, it’s worth a try to bring it to the event.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Pickering said. “It’ll be a discussion, and maybe another guest might know something about it.

“That’s the beauty of engaging the community about history. Not one person knows everything, and we’ll have different perspectives here.”

Zeller said while Taylor and Melzer are not antique appraisers, they’re history appraisers — they know Valencia County history and the names of the local families.

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Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.