“We need to write them down – before we forget – before we lose more of those pioneers who established this community.” Thus Mrs. Helen Hiebner started the ball rolling – the dream to create a book of stories of all the families represented in our community. A compilation that would summarize the history – be a legacy to folks that moved into the community; to younger descendants, who never got to hear their Grandparents tell of times in the Old Country, or how they came to locate here, establish their farms and businesses and grow their families.
From this initial idea came the New Sarepta Historical Society. Clarence and Zonnie Newman (founding members) hosted the first organizational meeting of the Society at their home just north of the hamlet some 37 years ago.
Looking Back was the first project. The book was launched at the 75 year anniversary celebrations in the fall of 1979. Since then the Historical Society has undertaken many more projects. The list includes restoring and displaying a few specimens of equipment used by the early pioneers, constructing a display case in the High School to display items of historical and other interest, and establishing a scholarship fund to encourage students with a keen interest in history to pursue their Secondary Education. Ten School districts were amalgamated to create the New Sarepta School. The Historical Society collected the records from all the districts and digitized them. The erection of a six foot monument to honour our pioneers seemed extra special. It was cut from a local boulder. Along with dwindling membership and fatigue of the remaining members, the society seriously considered dissolving in the late 90’s.
A few held onto the idea that they had to hang on at least until after organizing a 100th anniversary of the community in 2004. In conjunction with the Ag Society, Golden Pioneers and the Community Library, the celebration brought back many former residents to the community for a grand celebration. To mark the occasion, historical plaques were created and posted throughout the community. They marked important community businesses and organizations, and along with a booklet, make an excellent historic walk through the village. A Looking Back sequel updated activities of the businesses and organizations over the intervening 25 years. An anniversary calendar was created / sold, input was made into an anniversary quilt (fund raising auction), and a story teller made a realistic impersonation of the community founder – the Rev. Clement Hoyler. The Society never folded.
Clarence Newman was one of the founding members of our Historical Society. His wife hosted the first organizational meeting of the society in their home. They have been faithful members over these 37 years. They recently moved from their farm north of the hamlet to a seniors residence in Southeast Edmonton. The Society wished to recognize their service with a Society tea at their new residence, this newspaper story and by granting them an honorary lifetime membership to the New Sarepta Historical Society.
We also wish to invite all interested community members to participate in our Society’s annual meeting to be held 7:00 PM Tuesday evening, April 21 at the Seniors Centre.
A Brief History Of The Historical Society:
In April, 1978 Mrs. Helen Hiebner contacted the High School of New Sarepta, Alberta stating that she was interested in the history of the New Sarepta district and was referred to Mr. Otto Drebert. A meeting of Mr. Drebert and Mrs. Hiebner took place in June 1978 and they decided to create a hand out for the July Interdenominational Church Service that most community families attend with the intention of arousing interest in this project. A number of interested people responded in the summer of 1978. A list of names and addresses was kept and in September they were contacted that a meeting would be held on October 2, 1978.
The first meeting was held at the home of Clarence and Zonnie Newman at New Sarepta with the interested people in attendance, those being Clarence and Zonnie Newman, Mary Ann Trempner, Otto Drebert, Lorne Kublik, Lil Wispinski, Gordon Soch and Helen Hiebner. Gordon Soch presided as Chairman and Helen Hiebner as secretary.
On January 15, 1979 an election of directors was held. The directors selected were Otto Drebert, Helen Hiebner, Lil Wispinski, Velma McKinney and Lil Hickman. On January 31, 1979 four additional directors were elected; Pearl Gregor, Adam Schultz, Vern Schlender and Clarence Newman. On February 6, 1979 a meeting for an election of officers was held. The positions and individuals elected were; President, Mrs. Velma McKinney, Vice-President, Otto Drebert, Secretary, Mrs. Helen Hiebner, Treasurer, Mrs. Lil Hickman.
The New Sarepta Historical Society was registered on January 22, 1979 by the Directors with the government, under the Society Act. On September 4, 1979 Mrs. Adrian Franck and Mrs. Pearl Gregor volunteered their services and talents as the society editors.