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Storytellers and Story Keepers

posted Jan 17, 2018, 10:28 AM by James Nennemann
By Sherry Perkins

It is a new year, 365 days lay before us with each and every day creating history. Everyone has heard “history repeats itself”. How do we know what ‘History “was? Every person, every town and every situation has a story to tell. How do these stories get told? How does it get saved for future generations? And does anyone care?

Keeping history alive and well should be important to every person.  We can’t leave it up to our schools telling the stories of the counties, state and country.  It is up to each all of us to make sure history is not shoved under the rug. We mustn’t forget our ancestors, the settling of the country, the wars fought and why, floods, droughts, the Depression, etc.   And who or what does this?  MUSEUMS!!   National
museums are well known with thousands of visitors. Museums at the local level are just as important as the Smithsonian---- maybe more so because most of us will never visit it. 

Southwest Iowa has a gold mine of museums. The four corner counties of Iowa- Mills, Fremont, Page and Montgomery all have stories of both national and local interest that must be preserved.Here in Fremont County, we have the Fremont County History Center and Iowa’s Championship Rode Museum in Sidney that is dedicated to telling the stories of the entire county.  Randolph has the Ferrel House, a furnished 19th century home, and the 1878 Train Depot Museum. Tabor has the Todd House that celebrates the rich history of that community. Farragut and Hamburg are creating museums to tell their stories. Between them, these museums insure we will not forget the Underground Railroad, Orphan Trains, Iowa’s Championship Rodeo, the disastrous floods, how railroads tied us to the rest of the country and the famous people whose footsteps left a mark in the County such as Lewis & Clark.

Not only do our local museums tell these stories that are of national interest but they fill in the blanks for us and our own personal history.  The Fremont County History Center has a robust genealogy department with a treasure trove of family histories. You can find our when you ancestors bought the family farm and learn if it is a “Century Farm of Iowa”. Learn if your great, great grandfather fought in the Civil War. Learn when your family came to Fremont County.  Find letters actually written by your ancestors or personal accounts of local folk’s interaction with the Native Americans in the early years.

Not all history is old and we cannot just preserve what happened a 100 years ago.  Each and every day there are stories happening that will be important to those following us. Just last year we were the only county in Iowa to see the total eclipse of the sun. Today there are new families moving into the County and their ancestors will want to learn about them. All the new homes being built around the County suggest we are on the verge of change. How will we compare the changes in the future without knowing where we started.

The local museums exist because of the generosity of volunteers and donations. It is the only way they stay open. These volunteers who have a keen sense of the importance of history are so necessary for the preservation of museums.

This is the time when the museums are soliciting volunteers and memberships. Please volunteer and /or donate to these important entities.   Share your story---- it is more important than you think. 

Remember “You can’t know where you are going, if you don’t know where you have been. Just as museums need your support, you and future generations need the museums.