Liberty High School librarian Walter Sharafanowich founded the organization in 1972. Leighton said the original mission was to set up an organization designed to save the historic John Marsh house southwest of Brentwood. The concept evolved into a full-fledged historical society when the Sellers Avenue Byer-Nail property was acquired in 1985. Since that time, the society has become a revered East County institution, gathering historical information and relics from the past and displaying them in the Byer-Nail house museum and grounds.
Many thousands of school children and adults have toured the museum since its opening. And hundreds of loyal members, their families and history-minded residents attend the barbecue, the largest society fund-raiser, every September.
This year's barbecue will feature entertainment by the East County Concert Band, directed by Bruce Stuart; the Hillbilly Buzzards, organized by local businessman Rod Linn; a spinning demonstration by local teacher Jody Moody and friend; and horse-smithing by Danny Love of Knightsen. Residents may tour the grounds and the museum, a continually updated facility incorporating hundreds of interesting displays and items of historical significance.
Also on hand will be Rick Lemyre, a member of the American Civil War Association, who will present a Civil War display of items owned by local businesswoman Marilyn Merry, relative of a Civil War veteran. Other period items and weapons will be exhibited and visitors can try their hand at transmitting Morse code on authentic 1863 telegraph equipment.
This year's menu will include the traditional tri-tip entree provided by the Rotary Club, baked beans, sweet Brentwood corn from G&S Farms, and tomatoes and green onions provided by Smith Farms. Beer from Pee Wee Muldoon's and wine provided by local vintners will be available for purchase. Everything is donated, including the time of the helpers who prepare and serve the meal.
Tickets can be obtained from society president Jody Merriam or treasurer Joyce Enos by calling 240-0288 or 634-7116. Adult admission is $15; $8 for children 6 to 12; and children under 6 get in free. The society will have souvenirs for sale.
"Bring the kids; come on out and enjoy a super meal and some swell entertainment," Merriam said. "We always have a great 'ole time."