Twenty-seven years ago, Madelyn Connelly visited her sister-in-law in St. Louis for antique shopping. It happened to be the week that her sister-in-law had her Questers meeting, so Connelly tagged along. Inspired by that, she went on to form the only chapter of the international study club in Eastern Jackson County.

Twenty-seven years ago, Madelyn Connelly visited her sister-in-law in St. Louis for antique shopping. It happened to be the week that her sister-in-law had her Questers meeting, so Connelly tagged along. Inspired by that, she went on to form the only chapter of the international study club in Eastern Jackson County.

Most chapters of Questers focus on one-year projects, Connelly said, but for more than a quarter of a century, the female members of the Truman Towners Chapter of the Questers have focused on purchasing or restoring items that were original to the Bingham-Waggoner Estate. Their first accomplishment was an estate herb garden in the spring of 1986.

“And it blossomed from there,” Connelly says.

At one time, the chapter had 17 members, but now the Truman Towners are down to just six active volunteers – Connelly, Judy Butler, Barb Salva, Judy Banks, June Harmon and Bev Huffman. While no men have ever joined the local chapter, they are certainly welcome, Connelly said.

The Truman Towners were recognized earlier this month with the city of Independence’s W.Z. Hickman Award for Historic Preservation in Distinguished Service – Organization. Connelly said she wants to make it clear that credit is due to the entire chapter.

“It’s always been all of us together,” she said.

Why do you think volunteering is important?

Connelly: “I think it is the foundation of wanting to preserve things. Without volunteers, we couldn’t be doing it. It’s just like the Bingham-Waggoner and the board there and the (Bingham-Waggoner) Historical Society are the base of the whole what I would call the Bingham-Waggoner Estate Museum. In essence, it is a museum.”

Would you like to see some younger members join?

Connelly: “Oh, yes, by all means. We don’t get outside and do any of the outside work we used to do. I’d say we’re all in our 60s and 70s, and I’m 80. (Laughs) We’re surprised in Independence that we haven’t had more people say they were interested. St. Joseph has five chapters.

“I’d love to have young people come into the group, but it hasn’t happened.”

What role do you think historic preservation plays in the 21st century?

Connelly: “I think all along it’s played a very important part. I’m always surprised at the number of people who come and want to tour the house and are literally fascinated by the things from the past. Oftentimes, you’ll learn something new from a tourist that comes through. I think it’s so important for the young people to know. Things are moving so fast nowadays – they need to know how it was in the past. I hope that we old ladies aren’t the last hurrah. I would love to see younger people get into it.”