Museum at Mountain Home looks for new home
Published 10:04 am Tuesday, May 9, 2023
To the Editor:
Some readers may recall the plight of the former Museum at Mountain Home, a medical/military museum in Johnson City. Many artifacts were damaged when a pipe burst during the extreme cold around Christmastime.
Volunteers are inventorying and assessing damage with an emphasis on military uniforms dating back to WWI. A debt of gratitude is owed to Kirby Taylor of Quik Cleaners and Laundry in Elizabethton. Mr. Taylor has graciously cleaned uniforms for us at no cost.
A box unpacked recently included a letter dated October, 11, 1951 from the Army to Mrs. Ethel Stagnoli of Cawood, Ky. It said, “It is with regret that I am writing to confirm the recent telegram informing you of the death of your husband, Private First Class William F. Stagnoli (Junior) who was killed in action on September 25, 1951.”
Ethel and William were newlyweds. He had written home on September 2, 1951 describing a recent battle saying, “Honey, I don’t know, but I hope I never see it that bad again, altho we did not lose any men. In times like that you never know how long you’ll be standing for you know not when your time is, specially when you are getting shot at…I am awful afraid.”
Within days, William was dead, killed by fragments of an enemy mortar shell in North Korea. In January 1952, Ethel received notification that William’s remains would be shipped, that the date of shipment by rail, date of arrival, and the escort’s name would be forthcoming. The body was shipped to Cawood Funeral Home in Middlesboro.
These documents and many others should be preserved. We remain hopeful a new location will be found and the items can again be on public display. Should anyone know of a long-term, suitable storage (the museum has exhausted its funds and can’t rent a facility) please contact Martha Whaley at email@example.com
Jo Harris, Museum Volunteer