Three members of the Mexico community were honored last month at the Audrain County Historical Society's annual meeting for their contributions to society facilities and its programs.
Ned Azdell and his late wife, Elaine, were awarded the friend of history award. They provided the one-room country school at the society's museum complex in the 1990s and continued contributions have allowed the society to maintain the building. Becky Botts coordinates the education day when up to 700 area students visit various booths and presentations at Walk Back in Time. She received the director's award from society director Lori Pratt. Debra Trabue, society board president, received the president's award. Trabue was the board's secretary, however, when she was nominated.
Each have either volunteered at the society's museum or Walk Back.
"Last year we limited (education day) to 700," Botts said, adding two years ago the event had up to 1,000 students come through Walk Back. "We had Centralia, we had home schools, we had all these people."
The education day initially was started for students at the three Mexico elementary schools and Saint Brendan's School, but eventually grew to include other school districts.
Trabue got her start with the society through Walk Back 16 years ago where she ended up making apple butter. She has now served on the society board for five years.
Trabue thought she'd only stay for a couple hours her first year volunteering, but ended up staying the whole day. "I ended up there until we canned it all. ... (By the end) I was giving tutorials on how to do it like I had been doing it all of my life," she said.
The next year she worked with Tony Robertson in the information tent. "I ended up being the caretaker and direction finder," Trabue said. "It's just been great."
Like many one-room schoolhouses, it didn't have a permanent foundation, so the building could be moved throughout the county when it was in regular use. The rafters were temporarily removed when it was brought to the museum complex, Azdell said. This had to be done so the building would not be damaged when it was moved from the Azdell's property to the museum, due to low bridge overpasses.
"(Elaine) had left us a little bit of money and said (she) wanted it to go the schoolhouse," Pratt said. "At the same time, we needed a roof for the school and I said, 'Is it OK if we use if for that? That way she can always be looking down over the school.'"