When Judy Hess died last week, the community lost a passionate advocate for Barcelona history.
Over the course of decades, Judy collected and preserved the history of her beloved Barcelona. She established the Commercial Fisherman's Museum in the old Barcelona school house and shared her collection with individuals, families and touring groups, all with the enormous enthusiasm for which she was known.
The museum Judy established is a treasure-trove of paintings, photographs, log books and other records and commercial fishing memorabilia that tell the story of generations of Barcelona residents. Some items were donated. Others she bought. All were treasured because she saw their value for future generations.
Judy Hess sorts through documents and pictures for a display at the Commercial Fisherman’s Museum she established in Barcelona.
The Barcelona Museum encompasses the history of Barcelona's fishing industry, from the early days when boats were powered by the wind and on down to the diesel-powered fishing tugs that gave fishermen a broader reach into Lake Erie. It tells the story of local families, stories stretching back five generations, proud tales of entrepreneurship, ingenuity and hardship.
Judy's work is personal to me. She and her husband, Ronald, lived in the house where my great-grandfather, William Jackway, a third generation fisherman, raised his family. He descended from Philemon Jackway, who arrived in Barcelona in the early 1800s and there established a fishing business that remained in the family for generations. My mother, Martha Jackway Herbst, and her sister, Marilyn, were the last of the Jackways to grow to adulthood in Barcelona.
Every community in Chautauqua County has its own story to tell, each of them as varied and interesting as Barcelona's. Judy's life's work is a tribute to all local historians who labor hard and long, often with little acknowledgement, to preserve our past.
Still, in preserving the history of those many generations of Jackways and all of the Barcelona families who shared similar lives and experiences, Judy Hess left for us a legacy that, like the fox to the Little Prince, is unique in all the world.
For this, descendants of the Barcelona fishing families could never thank her enough.
(Cristie Herbst is a trustee of the Chautauqua County Historical Society and retired editor of The Post-Journal.)