VFW donates artifacts to Potsdam Museum

The Potsdam VFW donated memorabilia, including a portrait of its namesake and the original charter, to the Potsdam Museum. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

POTSDAM — Nearly 84 years after its founding, the Roy D. Graves Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1194 is shutting its doors, but part of its history will stay with the village for many years to come.

A number of artifacts previously belonging to the post have been donated to the Potsdam Public Museum where they will be recorded and stored. Village Historian Mimi Van Deusen said that while the museum is currently closed for browsing, she wanted to find some way to display the materials.

“I think we’re going to try to do an online exhibit of the stuff which we actually have on our homepage right now,” Ms. Van Deusen said. “We have the history of the place and some pictures of the bar and some pictures I took inside before they disassembled everything.”

The collection includes various items from the post and its members over the years; dozens of photos, including long panoramic shots of members from decades-past, the framed original charter signed in 1936, boxes of uniforms and hats, various sabers, and artwork of the post’s namesake.

The history posted so far on the museum’s website details part of Mr. Graves’ life and death in the first world war during the second battle of the Somme. Mr. Graves was one of about two dozen Potsdam men, including his brother, to serve in the first world war. They were deployed from Camp Wadsworth in North Carolina for Europe in May 1918. Mr. Graves died on Oct. 12 and was formally laid to rest in Potsdam’s Garfield Cemetery in 1921. To honor his sacrifice, the post was named in his honor.

The VFW will continue to operate, Commander Robert S. Crary said last year, but the Market Street location has been shut down. He said lack of volunteers and bartenders as well as clientele coming in to visit the post’s then third location led to the closure.

Parts of the collection can be viewed at PotsdamPublicMuseum.org.

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