Okay, Diane Forsythe admits it. She confesses — she’s a hoarder. But before we call for an intervention or even for a visit from the production staff from the reality show, Hoarders, please know that the situation is under control. Whereas, the people on the Hoarders TV show have piles of junk everywhere in their houses to the extent that they don’t have an empty chair to sit on, a bed to sleep in or a clear kitchen table, Diane has her stuff neatly arranged and categorized in an attractive setting at a nice little store in nearby Pattonsburg. Her place, the History House, located just south of the Pattonsburg Café, is a combination library/museum and it’s one of those places that one can literally spend hours browsing through.
Dianne has been a collector and a “digger” for 35 years. Her inventory at the History House consists of hundreds of books – mostly history related – and includes shelved sections of biographies, old encyclopedias (some from the 1890’s), law books, Bibles, atlases, histories, genealogies, books about wars, presidents, and presidents’ wives. Oh yes, and magazines — would you believe 1800 editions of the old Life magazine? In addition to the books, the History House features displays of antiques — anything from old buttons, sets of silverware, furniture, period clothing, pocket knives, and clocks, some as old as 150 years.
Diane has been a municipal judge, a mayor, and a police chief. She became a Lake Viking and Daviess County resident when she married longtime association member Don Porter. Previously, she lived in Polo where her collection was housed. When Diane began pursuing her interest, in all things history-related and more specifically in genealogy, she compiled her information the old-fashioned way — going to courthouses and libraries and using the copy machine. She has spent countless hours researching, copying, categorizing and journaling items of local historical interest. As for her vast collection of books, she has acquired a lot of that inventory through purchases from estate sales and private collections.
Diane, and her husband and partner, Don Porter, have done an excellent job in sorting, arranging and presenting her collection in the History House. (Granted, she still has 3,000 books in storage but these things take time.) My favorite item at the History House is a framed copy of an old 1937 newspaper with a headline proclaiming: “Amelia Earhart Found Safe on a South Pacific Island!” Whoa! I’d say fake news has been around for a long time.
As a longtime resident of Caldwell County, Diane’s interest in local history took her into research of the old Mormon settlements there. At one time, circa 1837, there were some 20 small Mormon settlements in Caldwell County and Dianne has assisted excavation teams at some of those locations. She has a picture of an old cabin, found in the woods around the community of Mirabelle, which is believed to be the oldest known construction in the county.
As a result of all of Diane’s historical digging throughout the years (you might say she was an early day version of Google before there was a Google), the Mormon Church has expressed interest in digitalizing some of the volumes of documents she has assembled. Diane specializes in genealogy and local historical records. At present she is compiling attendance records from the old one-room country schoolhouses of Caldwell County.
If you are ever interested in an afternoon of browsing, pay a visit to Diane and Don at the History House in Pattonsburg. You never know what interesting little tidbit you’ll find.