Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Lucas County Historical Society Museum - Early Days

A portion of this information was taken from the History of Lucas County Book -1978.  

Records indicate the first Lucas County Historical Society was organized on June 10, 1901.  This was the first county historical society organized in the State of Iowa.  Officers at that time were Warren Dungan, President; Thomas V. Gay, Vice-President; Miss Effie M. Dungan Brown, Secretary; B.F. Bates, Treasurer; and Miss Margaret Brown, Curator.  Directors were Smith H. Mallory; R.A. Hasselquist; Mrs. F.H. Boynton; and Mrs. B.R. Van Dyke.  

At this time all records from the "Old Settlers Association: organized September 7, 1895 and the "Veterans Association" were donated to the first Lucas County Historical Society and protected for many years by the Chariton Library.  In 1974, said papers were donated for further protection and care to the present society.

An interesting partial quote from one of these papers reads, "What are the objects and benefits of such a society?  Blot out the past history of the world and the midnight darkness, which at once surrounds you, gives you a practical illustration of the value of the light of history.  Whatever use the present makes of the light history sheds upon it's pathway, measures the benefits of such a society."

The Museum House was built between 1907-09, by A. J. Stephens, a Chariton contractor, for his family home. The Lucas County Historical Society, which was organized on June 17 1965, purchased the home in 1966 for $10,500.  All restorations and additions were supported by contributions.

In 1968 a rural school, "Puckerbrush", the last to close in Lucas County, was purchased for one dollar from the Chariton Community School District and moved to the Museum grounds.; a rural "Otterbein Church" was moved onto the grounds in 1976; The John L. Lewis Building, the fourth building to be moved onto the property, was dedicated on July 4, 1976 and expansion was done in 1981 and 1992 and a timber framed barn in 1995; and a log cabin in 2001. 

This entire complex has been an encouragement to those who have labored since 1965.  It is rewarding to have the feeling that we are keeping faith with our fore-bearers who also dreamed and labored.


Reflections - Norma Pim - June 1986     Curator at the Lucas County Historical Society

Puckerbush Schoolhouse

     This is what I remember about bringing Puckerbush Schoolhouse onto the grounds and the story about how it came to belong to the Historical Society.  It was the last building to be sold after the re-organization of the rural schools in the county.  The building belonged to the Lucas County school board and they were offering it up for sale.  It was out in the northwest part of the county, close to Bill and Betty Osenbaugh's farm.  A few of the people at the museum got to talking about how it would be nice if we had ownership of this building and could move it onto the grounds for future young people and adults to enjoy.

     Irene Garton, the first curator asked me if I would go with her to the sale as the school board had advertised the school was for sale.  We heard that some people in the Puckerbush area by the name of Helen and Warren Rush were planning on buying it and making a chicken house out of it.  One day I got in my car and went up to Betty Osenbaugh's to see if she would go with me to talk to these people to see if there was any way we could obtain this building.   She agreed to go.  She had her young son David with her and we started out toward Warren Rush's place.  We didn't know what we were up against because they said they wanted to buy it and we didn't have funds to buy it at that time.  The Historical Society was organized in 1965 and here it was 1967 and we had been getting by on just donations and things.  So on the way up there I said to Betty, "I know you as a praying Christian and I was wondering if we could say a prayer about this before we talk to these people."  I didn't even know them.  So she said certainly and I stopped the car and we had prayer about it right there in the road on the way up to their place.  The first conversation we had about it sounded very definite that he wouldn't abstain from bidding.  He was concerned that it was just a building and they had some use for it and he was going to buy it.  We went on to visiting a while longer and then his wife, Helen, said "I think these people should have the building and move it onto the museum grounds.  He said, "You Do!"  She said "Yes."  He said, "If that is the way you feel, I won't even go and try to buy it."  He was the only one that we knew of at the time that was interested in buying it, so we figured we had a chance.  Irene asked me if I would go with her to the school board meeting to see what happened.  To make the story short we were able to buy that school building for $1 that evening.  We were quite elated.

     We still had the problem of moving it and this would cost quite a bit of money.  Keith Kent came to mind because he owned a construction firm at Lucas with some very big machinery and we wondered if he could move it.  I was asked to go and talk to Keith Kent.  He was very gracious and made the statement that his mother, Mary, had taught school at Puckerbush School at one time and it meant a lot to him to have it saved.  He would move it for us as a donation.  That was my recollection of how this building came to be moved onto the historical Society grounds. 

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