La Porte County Historical Society Museum: Everything but the cars

Our rationale for going to the museum was to see the Kesling Auto Collection, but of course, I had to see the rest of the museum too.

The museum consists of three levels. Like all county museums, the collections are a bit eclectic, revealing the local character.

As you walk into the museum, you are greeted with lots and lots exhibit cases with a mishmash of items from the 19th and 20th centuries: glassware, old cameras, old currency, dolls (including a collection of replicas of former First Ladies), dishes, toys, etc. The collections are a bit overwhelming.

A couple things in particular jumped out at me. As I was scanning the cases, I spied a Lincoln metal medallion—a profile of President Lincoln that was embedded in the markers for the original Lincoln Highway, the first coast-to-coast highway in the US. I was so excited…until a little later I saw an original marker in its entirety—a concrete marker with a medallion embedded along with a large letter L to mark the highway for travelers. These markers have disappeared over the decades so it was a real joy to see one in the flesh.

The second item in the exhibit cases that stood out to me was the currency. The exhibit included Confederate currency, US currency during the Civil War, and even foreign currency. Before US greenbacks were the legal tender, anyone it seems could create their own currency. I know banks and states routinely did. But there I was looking at the currency for the Plank Road Company. Clearly, companies issued their own currency too.

What also piqued my interest about this particular currency was the name: Plank Road. I had recently learned (in the Jefferson County Historical Society History Center) about the evolution of road construction: first corduroy roads, then plank roads, then gravel and macadam roads. Here was currency from a company named after (and presumably engaged in) the process of building roads made of planks of wood: Plank Road Company currency.

Past these exhibit cases stand replicas of Main Street storefronts from different time periods. In front of each are cars from the corresponding eras. Beyond the storefronts are rooms set up to depict different eras with artifacts from those eras. Each room has so many item; it is hard to soak them all in and a single perusal isn’t be sufficient.

First up in a log cabin (a replica?) inhabited  by the first European resident of La Porte County, Miriam Benedict, who died in 1854. The cabin is chock full of item, but my eyes fell on the pie safe. Really? Would a log cabin contain a pie safe? I am skeptical but squirreled away that fact for later verifying.

The other rooms move through the eras more or less chronologically:

  • Beauty shop/barber shop
  • Victorian law office (Is that a beaver top hat I saw? I first learned about the beaver hat industry, the use of mercury, and the origin of the subsequent phrase “mad as a hatter” at the Old French House and Indian Museum in Vincennes.)
  • Music room with pieces from the old La Porte Theatre (1923-1977)
  • Room of the 1840s-1850s (strangely called the Empire Room…I’m confused because the Empire era was the early 1800s…)
  • Victorian parlor (Oh look! There are stereoscopes that I have been seeing in historical homes everywhere this last year.)
  • Victorian dining room
  • Victorian bedroom (Hey! There is a dresser with an over large first drawer for storing quilts. I first learned about the reasons for these over large top drawers at the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site.)
  • Dentist/doctor office
  • One-room schoolhouse
  • 1920s dining room
  • 1920s kitchen (replete with Hoosier cupboard and a fridge with the compressor on the top…darn if I can remember where I recently learned about fridges with compressors on the top.)
  • 1950s living room
  • General store

A strange collection of items hangs from a wall next to the dentist/doctor office. Invalid cups. I peered closer. Oh! IN-va-lid cups, not in-VALID cups. These ceramic cups with an elongated spout were the 19th century precursor to straws of the 20th century. These cups were meant to be used by people too weak or sick to drink from cups.

The basement contains different collections, one of the largest being the W.A. Jones gun collection. Williams A. Jones willed his extensive collection to the museum, which took possession of it following his death in 1921. Jones collected these 1,000+ antique guns in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is considered to be one of the best collections. I imagine gun enthusiasts would go nuts. (Not being one myself, I couldn’t fully appreciate the collection.)

Nearby are the ubiquitous war exhibits with the Civil War being prominent, though there are war souvenirs from WWII. Police and firefighters have their own exhibits too. As a nod to county museum eccentricities, model trains are within spitting distance.

One corner contains a barn/blacksmith site with all sorts of farming and blacksmith implements. Some items are easily identifiable. (After visiting the Schroeder Saddletree Factory, I have a fledgling knowledge of saddles and hames.) Others stirred vague memories. Still others from a time I am very much removed from. One point of note is the dog-powered butter churn. (Yes, really.) The contraption is missing the connection to the butter churn but the treadmill is fully assembled. (I saw a more complete specimen at the DuBois County Historical Museum.)

(Confession: I honestly walked by the dog-powered butter churn without seeing it. I happened to mention to my dad about seeing one in another county museum, to which he casually mentioned that they had one here. Really? And then off I went to try to find it. I find it hilarious that dogs were put to work to churn butter. Says something about human ingenuity—and the need for all members of the family to contribute.)

Next to the barn/blacksmith site is a room dedicated to Belle Gunness, kind of a macabre claim to fame for the county. Belle was the 19th serial killer of La Porte County. I first learned of Belle through original plays performed by Candlelight Theatre in Indianapolis. And now I was perusing a collection that recounted her gristly practice of advertising for husbands (the reverse of the modern mail-order bride), who “disappeared”, leaving Belle with their money and life insurance.

The rest of the basement houses odds and ends of collections. A corner is devoted to natural history with fossils and other geological artifacts as well as taxidermied animals. Corners call out county schools and sports (nearly as ubiquitous in county museums as war exhibits). A Boy Scouts collection, including a copy of the Order of the Arrow Handbook, inhabits another corner. Exhibit cases contain various musical instruments as well as household items. (Hey, that potato masher from the 1900s looks familiar!) Along one wall is a long bar, the kind you would see in a saloon from days past. (You know, the kind that a bartender in the movie slides a beer down.)

The second floor is mostly devoted to cars from the Kelsing Auto Collection. However, interspersed among the cars are exhibit cases that hold all sorts of toys (including toy cars and vehicles).

Come to the museum for the cars but stay for the other collections. Or vice versa, come for the historical collections about the county but stay for the car collection. Either way, this county museum is a real gem.

La Porte County Historical Society Museum: The Kesling Auto Collection

As the locus of the early automobile industry, Indiana unsurprisingly has a number of excellent car museums: the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, the Kokomo Automotive Museum, the Model T Museum, and the Studebaker Museum. The La Porte County Historical Society Museum, which is home to the Kesling Auto Collection, should be included in the list.

Dr. Peter Kesling, who is a retired orthodontist, built the building, which houses the museum and his collection of cars. His collection is quite impressive. A special Kesling room exists in the basement but his cars are sprinkled elsewhere in the basement and on the first floor. The second floor is pretty much devoted exclusively to his car collection.

In the Kelsing room in the basement, you can watch a film about the Kesling family and their love affair with cars, starting with the patriarch and ending with Dr. Kesling himself. After the film ended, I looked around and realized that many of the vehicles discussed in the film were on display around me in the Kesling room!

The Samson Tractor from the 1920s is quite odd. You didn’t ride it. You walked behind it and steered it with reins. (Yeah, it didn’t fare so well commercially.)

The Buggy Go was the “car” of a Kelsing youngster (and by youngster, I mean a boy under ten). It technically wasn’t a car in the usual sense of the word—the buggy was powered not by a rear-engine, but by a rear horse. A horse pushed the buggy from behind, egged on by carrots dangling just out of reach in a small trunk that opens to reveal the vegetables.

Then there is the 1922 Ford driven by the Kelsing family (in 1922) from Logansport, IN to Everett, WA. (I am not sure how long the trip took but in 1922, roads were not great and flat tires were routine.)

The room also includes an airplane, but the crown jewel in my mind is the Yare car, an electric car that Dr. H.D. Kesling (Peter’s father) built in 1978. Seriously, an electric car in 1978. This futuristic car—yellow egg-shaped with gull-wing doors—was featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles. Unfortunately, the one in the museum is the only one ever made.

The other cars scattered throughout the museum are quite impressive. They include (but are not limited to) a first year Mustang, various Auburns, various Dusenbergs, a Woodie, a Tucker, a 56 Thunderbird, and a DeLorean. And then there are the odd models that I hadn’t heard of before such as Velie, Duryea, Amphicar, Toldeo, Winton, and Playboy.

Some are a little bit odd. One Ford “truck” is bright red with white slogans painted all over it. I was fixated on the wording when my dad pointed out the steering wheels on either end of the car. The car literally had two front ends. You never needed to (or probably could) go in reverse!

The Amphicar looked odd to me. Its lights reminded me of lights I saw on some cars in the Dream Cars exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art—a nod to the space age. These lights, it turns out, were probably more a nod to a nautical theme than a space one. I learned later that the Amphicar was an amphibious car. (Yes, you read that right. Check out a photo if you don’t believe me.) The car could be driven on land or in water. (Kind of seems like something that Q would have given James Bond in early Bond films.) I wish I had realized that about the car at the museum. I would have looked under the rear bumper for the propellers!

The 1948 Playboy, well, contrary to what you’d expect, was not named after the magazine. Actually, it was the reverse. Hefner named his magazine after the car. (No kidding.)

In 1976, the Keslings raced a 1911 Ford Model T in the “Around the World Race” from Istanbul to San Francisco. They came in third in this 20 horsepower, four-cylinder engine car. (First place went to a 1914 Dodge Touring driven by Eddie and Mark Schuler of Illinois.) Naturally, the 1911 Ford Model T is housed in the museum.

In 2003, to celebrate the centennial of the first transcontinental car trip, Dr. Peter Kesling and his wife Charlene took their 1903 Winton (also in the museum) on a trip across the US. The trip took the Keslings 40 days, but back in 1903, the same journey took Dr. Horatio Nelson Jackson, his technician Sewall Crocker, and dog Bud 63 days. (In photos, even Bud has driving goggles.)

Kesling published a book on the 1903 Winton, the definitive source of all things Winton. The book includes a reprint of Ralph Nading Hill’s book about Dr. Jackson’s and Mr. Crocker’s 1903 trip as well as photos taken by Dr. Jackson on the trip. (Both Hill and Jackson were Vermonters. I share a birthday with Crocker, so I am kind of partial to him.)

The book also includes a 1903 sales brochure and instruction manual for the car’s operation. According to a summary of the book, the instruction manual “not only instructs in the detials [sic] of carbuetor [sic] adjustment but also how to avoid telephone poles and brick walls.” That description made me laugh out loud.

My favorite car is probably the 1912 Ford Model T Speedster. I’m a sucker for those early open air, dual bucket seat contraptions—you know, the kind of car where drivers wear long coats and goggles to protect themselves from dirt, mud, and rain. (In photos, they are invariably coated in mud from head to foot after a race or long car ride.)

Check out the museum and see which car in the Kesling Auto Collection is your favorite.

Jefferson County Historical Society History Center

Madison, Indiana was doubly blessed with the Ohio River and the nascent railroad. Traffic still flows on the Ohio River (though probably not to the extent of Madison’s heydays.) The railroad that ran through Madison is long gone—its tracks either turned into a walking trail or left to decay—but the heritage remains.

As the county seat, Madison is home to a county museum that showcases its history and all the industries that rose and fell here. A modern building housing the main collection sits behind an octagonal historic building, which was the old train depot.

The museum’s collection starts with the beginning of Native American settlement in the area and meanders chronologically through industry, notable events, and important people.

The area that became Indiana was first part of the Northwest Territory, which was formed by an act of Congress in 1787. In 1800, part of the Northwest Territory became the Indiana Territory. In 1805, the indigenous people of the area, mostly Shawnee, ceded their right to the land. And in 1816, the state of Indiana was born.

As I wandered around the center, I learned about the important technologies, stores, and industries in 19th and 20th century Madison and environs: horse and buggies, drug stores, grocery stores, mills, and iron foundries. A small corner of the museum is dedicated to William McKendree Snyder (1849-1930), the local artist that a docent at the Dr. William Hutchings’ Office and Museum was shocked to learn that I didn’t know. Other exhibits cover schools, including Hanover College, farms, shipyards, bridges, and streetcars (which ended in Madison in 1929). A common theme through most of the exhibits is transportation or transportation infrastructure.

A rather large exhibit is devoted to the Jefferson Proving Grounds, an inhabited area that the government commandeered. The area was cleared of people and from 1941 to 1995 was dedicated solely to the testing of weapons. How sad, I thought, that this area could never be returned to human habitation. The danger of chemicals and unexploded munitions is too great, though flora and fauna has reclaimed the area.

Other exhibits walk visitors through various early technologies. One shows the progression of materials used for roads, from corduroy (tree trunks) to plank to gravel and macadam (crushed stones and tar). (I cannot begin to imagine traveling on a road made of tree trunks.)

Another extensive exhibit illustrates different 19th century antecedents to modern photography: carte de visite (calling cards with a photo), daguerro-type photographs (1839-late 1850s), ambro-type photographs (1850s-1860), and tin-type photographs (1860s-1900). (I don’t believe I have ever seen the different types together in a single collection before.)

To top it off are stereoscopes (1840s-1930s), devices that show 3D presentation of images. (I seemed to encounter them in one historical home after another that I visited this year.) The stereoscope, I learned, debuted in 1851 at the Great Exhibition (aka the Crystal Palace Exhibition) in London, where Queen Victoria first encountered it.

Another non-transportation related exhibit features a local boy/national hero: Sam Woodfill. He fought in three wars (Philippine-American War, WWI, WWII), and received the Medal of Honor for his bravery in WWI. Ultimately, he just wanted to be left alone by the publicity circus.

After perusing the History Center, I meandered across the lawn to the small octagonal structure—the 1895 train depot. The train in Madison originally ran parallel to the Ohio River but jogged up a block to the depot before heading back down to run parallel to the river and then quickly taking a 90 degree turn north up the steep Madison incline.

Railroads in Madison actually began in the 1830s (but apparently a depot for passengers was not needed until 1895?). James Lanier (of the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site) made some of his fortune investing in the Madison-Indianapolis line. After regular passenger service ended in 1931, the depot endured various metamorphoses.

In 1934, the depot was used as a Community Center. During the 1937 flood, the building was almost entirely underwater. I glanced down the street at the Lanier Mansion, which is at about the same latitude as the depot. The docent at the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site mentioned that during the 1937 flood, only the basement flooded. Hmmm. Seems strange that the depot would completely flood but the Lanier Mansion wouldn’t.

In 1961, the Wilson brothers bought the depot and used it as an electrical supplies warehouse (!). In 1986, the Historical Society gained possession of it and set about restoring it back to its inaugural year of 1895. In 1995, after nine years of work, restoration was complete.

The depot is neat just for its octagonal shape, but it is also a mini-museum. Exhibit cases show artifacts from the time period such as serving plates used on the train (back when trains had dining cars). One room is staged as a train station/telegraph office. And there are lots of pictures and explanations about train-related and Madison train-related details.

An exhibit about time explains the role of the railroads in creating a standard time in the US. How can you schedule train arrivals and departures if the areas that the train travels through do not agree on a common time? In 1883, the railroad tried to rectify that by implementing time zones. On November 18, 1883—The Day of Two Noons—railroad stations reset their clocks to a standard time based on five time zones: Intercolonial, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. In 1918, the US government caught up with the railroads with the Standard Time Act that, as the name implies, standardized time across the country.

Another key exhibit covers the Madison incline. The railroad tracks head north up a 5.89 percent grade incline, the steepest in the country. Originally horses (!) pulled trains up the incline. Around 1848, cogwheel trains with special engines relieved the horses of this task. In 1868, cogwheel trains were replaced with the Reuben Wells, a heavy locomotive that was powerful enough to haul trains up the incline.

The Reuben Wells, named for its maker, was only used on the incline. It was specially designed with a boiler that tilted forward so that the water level in the boiler remained flat on the incline. The Reuben Wells ran from 1868 to 1905 (or 1898 by other accounts), was retired, stored in Pennsylvania rail yards, and taken out for special events. In 1976, the Reuben Wells received a permanent home in the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. (Unfortunately, you cannot tour the inside of the locomotive to see the tilted boiler.)

The last train on the incline ran in 1992. For the most part, the train tracks running parallel to the river are gone. In 2014, some of the tracks were converted into walking trails. The railroad, like many throughout Indiana, is just a memory now. The Jefferson County Historical Society History Center offers as unique glimpse into its past.

Hoosier captive in China

I left the Dubois County Historical Museum with a few names and items I wanted to look into. Robert W. Greene was one of them.

From the museum, I learned that he was a missionary in China who was held by the Communists not long after they came to power in 1949. The museum had copies of his book, the TV show about his experiences, and the issue of Life magazine that featured him (May 19, 1952).

This Jasper native trained for the priesthood at nearby St. Meinrad. In 1937, he was ordained as a priest at the Maryknoll Seminary in New York and was promptly assigned to the mission in Guilin in the south of China, away from the war-torn areas. (China was in the throes of a civil war and had been invaded by Japan.)

In 1945, he returned to the States, but in 1947 was sent back to China, this time to Tungan in the same southern province to run a dispensary in the Maryknoll mission. WWII was long over but the civil war was in full swing. In 1949, the Communists took control of the country. The following year Father Greene’s troubles began.

In October 1950, the Communists confined him to his Maryknoll mission. After 17 months of this solitude, on April 3, 1952, he was dragged before a firing squad to be shot as a spy. Instead, he was bound and held against a wall with bayonets as he was interrogated for 8 days.

A Chinese mob gathered, including fellow parishioners and people he had helped with medicine from the dispensary. The mob was calling for his death. Greene was to be beheaded on April 13.

Instead, he was placed in a cage and paraded through three cities on the way to the border with Hong Kong. The procession to Hong Kong must have been quite a lengthy ordeal. Tungan is in Guangxi province, which does not border Hong Kong. Guangxi province borders Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong.

Greene’s harrowing experiences are chronicled in a 1955 book, Calvary in China, and a TV program, Crossroads: Calvary in China.

The Life magazine story about Father Greene, Red China’s Captured Americans, also mentions the numerous other Americans still held captive after Greene’s release: 42 imprisoned and 19 under house arrest. Three Americans had died. Phillip Cline, a diabetic who didn’t receive needed insulin, died after he was freed. Gertrude Cone died of starvation and cancer. William Wallace’s death was the worst and elicited a gasp from me. Like Cone, he died in jail; his beaten body was found hanging.

As I looked at all the photos and names of those listed in the article, I wondered at their stories. How many died in China? How many survived and made it back to the States? What did they all endure?

Greene himself lived a long life, dying in 2003 at the age of 92.

Dubois County Historical Museum

I find county museums a little bit quirky but fascinating glimpses into local history and identity. What the museum contains says a lot about what the county values and considers important, and how the county residents see themselves.

As I entered the Dubois County Historical Museum, two people greeted me. One took me around to see the entire museum. This would have thrown me—Why am I being walked through the museum? Aren’t I able to see it on my own?—except that I had encountered this not so long before. Maybe it is a rural museum tradition?

The pride he had in the museum and county was evident. The museum looks deceptively small from the outside. In actuality, the museum is housed in the old Kimball International warehouse. He seemed genuinely surprised that I didn’t instantly recognize Kimball International (oh yeah, they made pianos, right?), and I tried not to be embarrassed—and then annoyed as the minutes dragged on as we walked through the museum together with him pointing out everything.

The museum layout is a bit odd. The front part of it is divided into sections or rooms with different exhibits that focus on the founding of the county, the ethnic identity of the early inhabitants, wars, sports, and furniture companies (remember Kimball?) associated with the county’s history.

And then a doorway opens up into a huge warehouse full of farm equipment (county identity—rural and agricultural), a pioneer log cabin, and miscellaneous large objects. Sections are devoted to silver smelting, bees, butchering, woodworking, and blacksmithing.

He pointed to a small, climate-controlled room to the side of the warehouse. The man giving me a tour of the museum beamed with pride. The room, he explained, contained stuffed exotic animals hunted by someone whose name I was supposed to know. (To those familiar with my blog and love of animals, you won’t be surprised to know that I was horrified.) Clearly, hunting and stuffing are some of those things that make up the county’s identity. I swallowed hard as we thankfully walked by the room without entering.

Eventually I was left to peruse the museum on my own. The exhibits at the front of the museum contain a slew of information that I painstakingly reviewed. The fossil collection contains artifacts older than 200 million years. I learned that the Illinoisan glacier (is that what the glacier was called?) reached as far south as northwestern Dubois County.

The county is named for Toussaint DuBois, a Frenchman born in Montreal. DuBois joined another Frenchman, Lafayette, in fighting for American independence. He was, like many other Frenchmen in the New World, a fur trader. And like other fur traders during skirmishes (Michel Brouillet for example), he managed spies and scouts during the Tippecanoe Campaign (1812). He was a captain (and later major) during the War of 1812. He was the first landowner in what became Dubois County, but alas he never lived on the land. He died crossing the Wabash River in May 1816 and is buried in Vincennes (which is not in the county that bears his name).

The land that makes up Dubois County came from a 1803/1804 treaty that Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison made with the native Americans. In 1817—a year after Indiana became a state—Governor Jennings approved an act creating Dubois County. (Incidentally, Dubois is pronounced Dew-Boys, a decidedly non-French pronunciation.)

People moved in quickly. By 1820, Dubois County contained 202 non-native American families (1,168 people). The Lincolns, as in Abraham Lincoln’s birth family, lived just seven miles south of the county line. Ethnically, the county included Scots-Irish and Germans—lots of Germans. A good portion of space in the museum is devoted to explaining the providence of these German immigrants, their dialects, and their voyage to Indiana from native Prussia.

Another section highlights the religion in the area, but the focus of the museum in large part is on the military experience of inhabitants. Each war has its own exhibit stock full of artifacts. Indiana is a land of war memorials, and in Dubois County, they seem to take their military history very seriously.

The museum contains an impressive array of military artifacts, including such things as a flag from Company K of the 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry (the flag was carried in the Battle of Antietam, Maryland September 17, 1862), “souvenirs” pilfered from the enemy dead of WWII, and four (not one, four!) Belgian rifles from the Civil War.

At 14 pounds (!), I couldn’t help but think that the soldiers that carried these Belgian rifles were of a hardy stock—and brave. Not the safest rifle, according to E. R. Brown of the 27th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, Company C, “They were all deadly at the muzzle end, and some of them were next to deadly at both ends. Their kick was like the recoil of a cannon.”

Dubois County was heavily wooded and historically had a large lumber industry with sawmills and furniture factories. Many different desks, pianos, and even a complete kitchen with real AristOKraft cabinets are on display. (The museum considered getting a hold of the AristOKraft cabinets a minor coup. AristOKraft later became MasterBrand.) The furniture makers are a litany of past local companies: Jasper Desk, Indiana Cabinet Co., Jasper Office Furniture, Indiana Furniture Industries, and Jasper Corporation (which later became, you guessed it, Kimball International).

As if proving my point about the quirkiness that is a county museum, immediately next to the furniture is a glass exhibit case about Bill Schroeder, an inhabitant of the county who received the first mechanical heart on December 25, 1984. Unfortunately, after the procedure, Schroeder only lived 620 days; he suffered a series of strokes and died on August 6, 1986.

I moved through the doorway to the warehouse portion of the museum. I looked over the various mini-exhibits for different trades, such as silver smelting, blacksmithing, and woodworking. The warehouse section contains many farming implements and machines: buggies, wagons, threshers, water pumps, a 1923 Kitten steam engine, and even a restored 1924 Maxwell.

I found myself face-to-face with that small room, the recently opened Wildlife Adventure Exhibit.

I took a deep breath and steeled myself before entering. The room was full of stuffed animals (not the type of stuffed animals I like!): bears, moose, elk, panthers, cougars, etc. You name it, it had been hunted, stuffed, and put on display here. A section contains trophies from the numerous trips local businessman Frank Fromme Jr. made to Africa starting in 1968. I found myself staring at two elephant feet—the native tribes got the meat, Frank was allowed to take two feet. I breathed easier as I stepped back into the warehouse proper.

Out of the myriad of items, the mechanical item that caught my fancy though was the dog-powered butter churn (yes, really!). A dog would walk (run?) on a slanted treadmill that powered an arm attached to a butter churn. I suppose all members of the family in the early 1900s had to earn their keep. (It reminded me another out-of-the-ordinary butter churn with a side crank that I saw in the childhood home of Ernie Pyle in Dana, IN.)

The centerpiece of the large warehouse room, not dwarfed by the large mechanical equipment around it, is a huge German log cabin. The cabin was built in the 1880s near Patoka Lake at Celestine. In 2004, the cabin was taken apart, moved to the museum, and rebuilt inside the building. In fact, the cabin is too large for the warehouse; they ran out of room to rebuild the second story of the cabin. The logs are incredibly well preserved thanks to weatherboards that covered them from almost immediately after the cabin was built.

The cabin came from the Welp Homestead, which is still farmed by the family today. It housed Gerhard Welp (1823-1897), his parents, and four siblings who came to the US to avoid fighting in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

The warehouse ends with murals depicting important buildings in each city in the county, such as Ferdinand and Celestine. As I exited, I passed through a reconstructed downtown from the early 1900s. On display are a variety of shops and services: shoe repair, jail, photographer, barber, millinery, saloon, bank, doctor, store, school, hotel, undertaker, kitchen, news office, surveyor, and church.

As I left, I felt as though I had a better feel for Dew-Boys County, learned a few things, and discovered a few things I wanted to follow up on. County museums—they are a great way to get a feel for a place and learn about local history.