Seventy years ago a small group of people began collecting artifacts, information and memorabilia from the pioneers who had settled Morrison County. This group of founders included Mrs. J. K. Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Stilwell, Mr. Val Kasparek, Mrs. R. L. Cochrane, Mr. and Mrs. Warren Gibson, and Mrs. Julius Jetka. They organized the Morrison County Historical Society and soon new members joined. As the collections grew a museum space was needed to house the items. The County provided a room in the basement of the courthouse. The room was small with not much head-room due to the heating pipes near the ceiling. One small basement window faced the west. As the collections grew, the exhibits spilled into the hallway. A big furnace faced the museum’s doorway from the opposite side of the hallway.
The artifacts were exhibited in cases donated by stores. Those not in cases were hung on walls. Tags attached to the items identified their use and who donated them. There were two metal file cabinets, not enough space for the manuscript collections. Boxes filled with papers were shoved into every available space. There was no provision for the conservation of the items and little was known about the elements which damage precious items.
In spite of these crude beginnings, it is to these founders that we owe much for their foresight. Some of the most important items in the museum’s collections were gathered in these early days. It is our duty to carry out the work that was begun seventy years ago. Perhaps we could all pay tribute to their efforts with an extra donation to carry on the work of the Morrison County Historical Society.
By Jan Warner
Copyright 2005, Morrison County Historical Society