Ken Eaton purchased a Civil War rifle when he was a teenager and wanted to find out more about its past. The more he read about the Civil War, the more his interest grew. This simple pursuit of knowledge sparked a lifelong passion for history and the artifacts that go along with it. See Ken talk about this rifle and other aspects on his collection in this 22 minute YouTube video.
Ken started going to auctions and estate sales and collecting the items that interested him. In the beginning, those items revolved around the Civil War. His collection grew from one small gun cabinet into two rooms of Civil War items displayed in the basement of his home. As his collection continued to grow, his interest in related items developed. His hobby branched out into collecting military items from World War I and World War II. Soon, his collection was spreading throughout his home. He started looking for a bigger house to live in with space to display all his items and share them with the public. He found the perfect location on Clinton Street in Homer and, after three years of renovations, he opened the Homeville Museum to the public on July 4, 1976, our nation’s Bicentennial. By then, the collection had expanded enough to fill twelve rooms in the new house and included model trains and local history items. He chose the name “Homeville” for his museum from the book David Harum, which was based on a banker from Homer named David Hannum.
For the next 30 years, until his death in 2006, Ken shared his museum with thousands of people including school groups, community members and organizations, state and national leaders, and even visitors from foreign countries. He never charged an admission fee. His motivation was his love of history and his desire to share his passion and knowledge, hoping to inspire others to treasure our nation’s history as he did.
Ken’s wish was that the Homeville Museum would survive him and stay in this area for the public to continue to appreciate and enjoy. With the opening of the CNY Living History Center in 2012, this collection was once again open to the public. The exhibit is a combination of items from Ken Eaton’s collection and new ones that are on loan or have been donated to the Museum.
This website is intended to complement the collection and encourage you to come and see it in person. There are so many items that it’s impossible to see and appreciate all of them in only one visit. Additionally, displays are updated both in support of special events and annually (with some items moving on and off display).