Hidden History: The legacy of Dr. John Mattox lives on in the museum he built

Black History Month

FLUSHING, Ohio (WTRF) – Six months ago, the Ohio Valley lost a man who has worked hard at keeping the history of African American culture alive and well.

When Dr. John Mattox passed away suddenly in July, it was a loss to the community in many ways.

Everyone was left wondering what will happen to the Underground Railroad Museum?

Mattox was the founder and curator and single-handedly operated the museum. It turns out, his legacy lives on and the museum continues to flourish.

Dr. John Mattox will be remembered for his knowledge and his kindness.

He had such a love for history and humanity and it shows in this museum. He poured his heart and soul into this museum, bringing it from the ground up.

Kristina Estle, Underground Railroad Museum

He and his late wife collected every one of the 8,000 artifacts displayed on these three floors.

Some are disturbing. It’s not unusual for people to be moved to tears.

It is hard for most people, but Dr. Mattox would always tell them that we can not blame today’s society for the ills of the past.

Kristina Estle, Underground Railroad Museum

Estle was an intern here, pursuing her masters in public history. She had no idea she’d end up staying, but she suspects that Dr. Mattox knew.

He told everyone who came in that someday Kristina would take over the museum. I always chuckled, thinking he was joking and once he passed away in July, I knew I had to step up and take over.

Kristina Estle, Underground Railroad Museum

So, she’s now the director. She gets no pay.

She believes in the museum and the story it tells.

This isn’t Black history, it’s American history. Every person of every age of every race needs to come into this museum and hear the story.

Kristina Estle, Underground Railroad Museum

Most people drop in on a whim, and end up staying about two hours.

History is history and we need to keep it in the forefront because if you don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where you’re going.

Milton Lisak, Noble County Resident

You can watch our full Hidden History Special Saturday, February 15 at 5:30 p.m. on WTRF ABC Ohio Valley and on Saturday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. on My Ohio Valley.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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