Thank you notes

One of my favorite parts of my job is giving school tours. It is great to share stories with kids and get them excited about history.

Many schools have students write thank you notes afterwards. The last batch of thank you notes was especially fun.

Here are a couple of my favorites!


I especially like the drawings because I can identify the different objects and exhibits that the students remembered.

To all the students – thank you for visiting us. You are the reason we exist. We are saving the past and present – for you… the future.

Come see us again soon!

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Christmas Open House


The baskets are scattered around the museum, ready for eager bidders. Stop in and see us this week. The bidding ends during our open house on Saturday at 3 p.m.

This week is your final opportunity to visit the exhibit space before  renovations begin next week. We will close the gallery until spring. The archives will remain open 10-5 Tuesday-Saturday.

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November Newsletter

It’s here!  The Christmas Open House fundraiser at the Pope County Museum starts TODAY!  Join us all week, 10-5, and on Saturday, 10-5 with refreshments.  Fundraiser bidding starts today and ends at 3:00 pm on Saturday, December 3, 2016.

Our latest newsletter is attached with details and more news from the museum.


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Museum Closed Today (Friday, Nov. 18)

Due to an emergency board game and sledding day….I mean due to the blizzard and resulting school closure, the Pope County Museum will be closed today.
We plan to be open regular hours (10-5) tomorrow.

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As we breathe a collective sigh of relief that the 2016 election season is coming to a close, we share with you a few election artifacts from our collection.

Hubert H. Humphrey ran in the DFL primary in 1960.  John F. Kennedy won the Democratic primary and general election, and became our 35th president.

Protection and Sound Money were the slogans in the 1896 presidential bid of Republican, Wm. McKinley.  His campaign was successful making him our 25th president.

A 1900 election button featured Republican Samuel Van Sant in the foreground running for Governor of Minnesota.  Behind him are Wm. McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, the president and vice presidential candidates.  All were elected.  Van Sant was Minnesota’s 15th governor.

Magnus Johnson was an American farmer and politician. He served in both the Minnesota House of Representatives and the Minnesota Senate before being elected to the U.S. Senate on the Farmer-Labor ticket, to fill the seat opened because of the death of Knute Nelson.

I like that he’s for “Friendly Relations with All Nations and Entangling Alliances with none.”

See more from the Dassel History Center & Ergot Museum:


McKinley-Hobart 1896


Van Sant 1900 with McKinley – Roosevelt


Hubert H. Humphrey 1960


July 1923 Special Election


Magnus Johnson Manifesto

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The size of our scythes makes me sigh

We have been awarded a Legacy grant to purchase and install a new artifact storage system. I am beyond excited to have safe, orderly, archival storage to house the many treasures that have been entrusted to the Pope County Historical Society.

Proper storage is important to our mission. We want to collect stories of Pope County and artifacts to help illustrate those stories. We need to protect the artifacts and the stories for future generations, and we need to be able to share those stories and artifacts.

Our artifacts are critical to our mission.

But – we are blessed with an over abundance.


Ole Jermstad used this scythe in Chippewa Falls in 1869.

Let me use a cradle scythe as an example. This strikingly beautiful tool was critical in the early years of Pope County when wheat was king. As the blade mowed the stalks of grain, the long fingers caught the stalks and laid them down in an orderly fashion. This made the threshing process much easier. It is an elegant and well balanced tool.


Is it important for us to have a cradle scythe in our collection? ABSOLUTELY!

We have 5. Yep 5. And that isn’t counting the plain scythes without the extra fingers to catch the stalks. These things are BIG. And dangerous with the long blade.

Storing and displaying the scythes is a challenge, to say the least.

Of the five in the collection, only two have stories. The one above and one that belonged to Reverend Quenemoen of Cyrus.

In preparation for our December open house, I have pulled the cradle scythes together to


The other four cradle scythes.

show our members and supporters why I am in the process of refining the collection. I will recommend to our collection committee and board to deaccession (officially take out of the collection) three of the scythes and keep the two with the stories. If that is approved, the deaccessioned items will be offered to other museums. We usually try to contact the donor, but since the donors are unknown, we can’t do that in this case.

While removing artifacts from the collection is not something we take lightly, I think anyone who sees four duplicate cradle scythes and the space they take, will understand that refining the collection is necessary.
If you would like to come in and take a look at our cradle scythe collection or discuss the deaccession process, we are open from 10-5 Tuesday-Saturday.

Just don’t get me started on carpenter planes… or ox yokes…



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Hardanger Violin

1981-1508awThis Hardanger violin was made by Tom Nelson of Langhei Township, probably between 1884 and 1897.
1981-1508axIt is carved from light-colored wood with mother of pearl inlay. The mother of pearl inaly pieces were hand carved from buttons. It has 4 upper strings and place for 4 lower strings (3 are missing).
The head is carved into the royal lion of Norway, complete with teeth and tongue. There are intricate carvings on the back.
The violin is in a wooden carrying case with a metal handle on top, but there is no bow included.1981-1508ar
Also in the violin case are a photograph, an extra string, a bridge, a post and a makeup mirror. Knut and Inger were the children of Tom, so I am guessing that they are not the ones in the photo. It may be Tom and one of his wives: Inger Lee (who died of tuberculosis), Olra Dokken, who also died very young, but most probably his third wife – Joren (Julia) Esplein. Or it could be his parents Nils and Kari Bjorkland.
Tom was born in Norway and came to the US at age 19. 1981-1508am

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