MANSFIELD - Though not yet officially open, the History Center on Main Street in the former home of Dr. Leonard and Estella Neal already is receiving visitors, said founder and owner Joyce M. Tice, of Sullivan Township.
"We have already had enough visitors sign our guest book to fill four pages," said Tice, who operates the museum with help from longtime friend and classmate Sally Wilson Smith.
Tice has done extensive research in the Northern Tier counties of Tioga and Bradford and Chemung County, N.Y., and has had a genealogical online presence since 1996.
CHERYL R. CLARKE/Sun-Gazette
Joyce M. Tice in the museum she is opening on on Main Street in Mansfield.
She opened a barn on her property as a museum in 2003 and named it the "Sullivan Township Museum."
People from all over the area bring her their items of historical significance, she said.
"I collect memorabilia from this area and with it document their lives and the lives of their ancestors," she said.
That museum, located on Shaw Road, is open by appointment only.
Tice holds a bachelor's degree in English and a masters degree in finance, also writes a regular column for Mountain Home Magazine and has had several articles written about her and her site.
She is cataloging all graduates from Mansfield High School from its beginning in 1913, and that also is on the website, she said.
She is continuously tracking the 6,500 Mansfield High School graduates since the first class and conducting interviews with graduates to add to her compilation.
"In 2012 we will graduate the 100th class," she said.
In addition, she is working on proofreading historian Chester Bailey's book about the area, which will be published this spring. Bailey will turn 100 years old in April.
Tice has been moving artifacts from the barn to the house she recently purchased next door to the Mansfield Free Public Library. She describes the new museum the culmination of a dream she has had since she began collecting.
The house was built in 1917 to house Dr. Neal's osteopathic physician's offices, as well as his wife and family of six children.
The house was sold after Mary Neal, the last of his children, passed away.
"When it became available again, I knew it was the perfect place," she said.
In her new history center, there is little furniture, Tice said, because she wants to leave room for displays of her extensive photographs of people both from past and present.
One digital photo frame displays more than 600 people from Rutland Township and Roseville, another displays World War II comic postcards and large letter postcards, and yet another people buried in the Prospect Cemetery.
On a large screen TV are Mansfield High School alumni.
Tice displays her huge collection of alumni each year at the museum tent during Mansfield's Fabulous 1890s Weekend celebration at Smythe Park.
"This is a community resource, a place for people to bring things to display or donate," Tice said. "It is a museum about people."
"You don't have to be dead to be included in this museum," she added.
Anyone interested in donating or displaying items can contact Tice on her cellphone at 250-3829 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.