Northern Bedrock

mvimg_20190725_121331We are happy to welcome back Northern Bedrock Preservation Corps to Pope County. These young adults are learning how to preserve historic buildings and cemeteries.

While they are here, they will be working on the Holland Cabin and finishing some of the projects in the log cabins.

They will also hold a cemetery workshop on Monday morning, so if you know anyone who would like to learn how to clean headstones or see how to re-set a headstone, please contact the museum. This is a free workshop, but space is limited, so contact us as soon as possible for more information.

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Veteran Wall Update

Brent has been working hard on our Veteran’s Wall.


He has added hundreds of new images brought in by families or discovered in files. He has also re-printed faded images or found better pictures of some of the veterans.


The exhibit will be open soon!

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Signalness Fern


Anyone who has visited the Pope County Museum and spent anytime in the “Pioneer Room” at a meeting or looking through files has undoubtedly noticed the large ferns.

We have 2 pots containing HUGE Boston Ferns. They both pieces of the “Alma Signalness Fern.”

Alma Signalness was born January 1, 1891 and died December 28, 1913. The young woman had just proved up a homestead claim and was engaged to be married.

2009.3426In 1919, Alma’s parents gave her fern to the Pope County Courthouse in her memory. In 1968, the fern moved to the new Pope County Museum were it has resided ever since.

It has been divided and re-potted several times over the years.

We have been talking about dividing and re-potting one of the ferns for a few years, but hadn’t made it a priority. Until this week.

On Wednesday, I bumped the plant stand and the fern tumbled to the floor, shattering the pot.  OOPS!


I got the fern into a tub an picked up the pieces of the pot.

I had always believed that the fern was an accessioned artifact, so I was especially mortified to have damaged part of our museum collection. It turns out it is not an official artifact, and it really did need re-potting any way.

A note in the Fern File (yes, we really do have files on everything) said that the fern was last re-potted in 1998 by Glenwood Floral. So it was definitely due.

Merlin brought in new pots and divided the fern into several pieces. We will keep one for the museum, and probably make the other pieces available at our December silent auction. Wouldn’t you like to own part of a 100+ year old fern with such an interesting story?

Here is a photo of the fern from 1914, just after Alma passed away. It was clearly important to her and her family.



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Flag Day

Happy Flag Day, June 14, 2019!


38-Star Flag donated by Wencil Kalina


In honor of Flag Day we are featuring a 38-star flag from the Pope County Museum collection. The flag was donated 


to the museum by Wencil Kalina of Lake Reno without a lot of detail. However, in the history of flags, the 38-star flag turns out to have a cool local story! Read on: 

From the Glenwood Herald, Thursday, June 19, 1919

Local School Has First Flag. Glenwood School Board Buys Flag For School September 3, 1889, First in State. An article about the flag in the schools of Minnesota appeared in the last Sunday’s issue of the Minneapolis Tribune, were Glenwood is mentioned as the place where the public school board first procured a flag for its school house in Minnesota. The article mentions Mr. Luth Jaeger as the man who first began the agitation for flags and flag staffs for every public school in Minnesota. Mr. Jaeger began the publication of a weekly newspaper called “The North” which was to circulate, as the Tribune says, “largely among the readers of Scandinavian blood with a view to interpreting American ideals to them.” Mr. Jaeger began an agitation in this newspaper for a flag for every school. He wrote some very strong editorials advocating this move, but as far as Minneapolis was concerned it produced no results. But Glenwood was awake and became the first village in Minnesota to follow the advice. We quote the following from the Tribune:  “The editorial produced no immediate result in Minneapolis. The Board of Education of the time sat tight. However, communities around the state were interested. Glenwood and Anoka led off with fair promptness in supplying their schools with flags. The Glenwood school board voted on September 3, 1889, to buy a flag for the high school.”   It would have been interesting to know who the members of the Glenwood school board were at the time, but we have been unable to get their names.

Pope County Museum research reveals the following school board members for the 1889-1890 school year: J. Crozier, chairman; Tory Thorson, Treasurer; M.A. Wollan, Clerk; J.E. Gillman, Supt.

It was M.A. Wollan who brought attention to the action of the Glenwood School Board with an editorial to Luth Jaeger of The North:

To the Editor of The Journal. In your issue of yesterday you mention Anoka as being the first city in Minnesota to adopt the suggestion to display the star and stripes on its school building. This may be true, and it may not. At a meeting of the board of education of this city, held Sept. 3,1889, a resolution was adopted ordering the purchase of a flag for the high school building, and a few days later the stars and stripes were seen floating in the breeze over the school building. Unless the board of education of Anoka can show that it did at an earlier date order up the flag, this city will claim the honor of being the first.

M. A. WOLLAN, Glenwood, Oct. 29, 1889

The United States flag added the 38th star with the entrance of Colorado to the union on August 1, 1876. This flag remained the official flag until 1890 when the 43-star flag was adopted. Four states joined the union in November 1889: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington. Statehood was pending in Idaho by the end of 1889 so a 42-star flag was not produced. Instead, the 43-star flag was officially adopted with the entrance of Idaho to the union on July 3, 1890. This apparent “abundance of caution” may have stemmed from production of a 39-star flag in 1889 anticipating statehood of South Dakota, but when five states joined the union in close succession, the 39-star flag was not officially adopted.  Happy Flag Day, and congratulations to Glenwood (and Anoka) for leading the state in displaying the flag at our public schools!IMG_4961

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Feedback Needed

We are undergoing an interpretive plan. What does that mean?
It means we are looking at who comes to the museum and who doesn’t – and why.
It means we are looking ahead to future exhibits and programming.

We would love to hear from you. What do you want to see? What keep you coming to the museum – or keeps you from coming?

Please take 2-3 minutes to fill out this survey and help shape our plan for the future.

Thank you!

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Weather Announcement

Mother Nature is providing a solid amount of moisture this winter.  We are solidly in favor of working with her.  The Pope County Museum will likely be closed tomorrow, Saturday, March 9.  Please call ahead if you plan to travel.

The weather-folkssnow059snow060 are solidly behind their work as well.  When asked this morning if there were any doubt as to the weekend forecast, they answered flatly:  “No.”

The kids in these two photos are making the best of a snow day!  (Sledding in skirts??)  The photos came to us in the Clarence Swenson negative collection.  Clarence was an amateur photographer with a good eye.  He captured great images of his family and friends from the neighborhood south of Starbuck.

Do you know who these children are?  This series of images was not labeled but we’d love to add identification to our records.  Let us know!

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Immigrant Trunks

I have new favorite artifacts! (OK – I have many favorite artifacts, but this is a great story, so please indulge me as I share this with you.)

Like most local historical societies, we have MANY immigrant trunks in our collection. MANY. No doubt each one was a treasured item to someone who packed up their belongings and traveled to the opposite side of the world in search of a better life, but for it to really be valuable to us, we want to know the story.

003Two of the trunks with no museum documentation had names painted and carved on the front. We did some research to see if there was any way we could connect them to Pope County history or if they really belonged in a different historical society.

The first trunk read: “Ole Petersen Leirmigen Madelia P.o. Watonvien C.O. Minisota Nort Amerika”004
Clearly, Mr. Ole Petersen wanted his trunk to be delivered to Madelia Minnesota in Watonwan County, should he and his luggage get separated. Judging from the spelling of North America, we could tell that he traveled from Scandinavia, most likely Norway.

I searched through our extensive files for every Ole Petersen or Peterson. We have several early settlers by that name. In each case, we were able to track their progress through North America on their way to Pope County. None of them came through Madelia. I also looked for anyone with the last name Leirmigen, with no success.
Eventually, I e-mailed the fine folks at the Watonwan County Historical society to see if they would like the trunk for their collection.

005While waiting to hear from them, I turned my attention to another mystery trunk in our museum. This one had the name and destination carved into the front. “Margit Pederson (illegible) til Faribault Po. Rice Co. Minesota Nort Amerika.” There were no Margit Pedersons or Petersons in any of our records that could match the trunk. I began to think that this trunk really should go to the Rice County Historical Society.

There were two words under her name that I couldn’t make out. I tried making a pencil rubbing, and could still only make out the letters of one of the words: “glitre”. I can read some Danish/Norwegian, but that word did not make any sense to me. I asked Merlin, who can also read Norwegian, if it made sense to him. He pondered a moment and said, “There is a family with the last name Glittre in the Lake Johanna area of Pope County.”

So – back to the family files we went and discovered a file for John Glittre. The family took their name from the farm in Norway that was named for the glittering rocks on the hillside.
In John Glittre’s file was an obituary for his sister Margit Lerhaug, who had been the wife of Ole Peterson Lerhaug! I had misread Leiraugen as Leirmigen. Leiraugen was later shortened to Lerhaug.

Suddenly, everything fell into place! Needless to say, the trunks will not be relocating to Watonwan and Rice Counties, as they definitely have Pope County stories.

So now, between information gleaned from our family files and, I can tell you the story of Margit and Ole and their trunks.

Margit Glittre

Ole and Margit Lerhaug

Ole Pettersen / Petersen / Peterson / Leirhaugen / Lerhaug was born January 11, 1855  and baptized February 11 in Gol, Norway as Ole Pettersen.

According to family lore, he (and his trunk) immigrated to the United States in 1883. He became a citizen while residing in Goodhue County.

Margit Pederson/ Petersdatter/ Glittre was born February 11, 1860 and baptized March 4 in Gol, Norway as Margit Pedersdatter.

She (and her trunk) traveled to the United States with her sister Anna aboard the ship “City of Berlin” and arrived in New York in June of 1885. She made her way to Minnesota and was married to Ole October 29, 1885 in Kenyon Minnesota.


The ship that brought Margit to America.




Passenger list for “City of Berlin”










I was not able to determine with certainty if Margit and Ole knew each other in Norway, but since they came from the same town, it is quite likely.  The fact that they were married in October, only four months after Margit’s arrival in New York is another indication that perhaps they knew each other and planned to be married upon her arrival.


The marriage record of Margit and Ole.

They lived in Rice and Goodhue Counties for several years before settling in Pope County in 1889.

They farmed in Lake Johanna area and were founding members of the Lake Johanna Lutheran Church. They had 10 children together.

Ole passed away in January of 1939 and Margit (or Margaret as she was sometimes known), passed away in January of 1943. They are both buried in the Lake Jonanna cemetery.


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