HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM FEATURES GHOST TOWN, TAXIDERMY WORK

ANNIKA WALL, TRUMPET MANAGING EDITOR

The Bremer County Historical Society Museum includes history from all across the county, from ghost towns to taxidermy and everything in between. One popular display at the historical society is the Log Cabin Room.

The room was created using wood from the Erwin Koschmeder farm located North of Knittel, a ghost town located approximately 11 miles East from Waverly, according to bremercountyhistoricalsociety.org.

Aside from the walls, the artifacts, including an old bed, spinning wheel and crib, add to the atmosphere. The room also features a wood burning fireplace, where settlers would boil water and keep the room warm.

“I always wanted to live in a log cabin,” Tiffany Pearson, a visitor to the Bremer County Historical Society, said. The Log Cabin Room was Pearson’s favorite in the building.

“Child me loved to read and always wanted to just write books at a log cabin by the lake. It reminds me of my childhood.” C.J. Albrecht, a world-renowned naturalist and explorer who had a passion for taxidermy, is featured in the Albrecht wing, located at the back of the first floor, according to bremercountyhistoricalsociety.org.

A pair of lions, a moose and a rhinoceros, among others, line the walls of the wing. While smaller, a display cabinet full of taxidermized birds is also eye-catching. The museum was originally the Daily House Hotel, built in 1862, and was renamed the Waverly House before being converted into the Bremer County Historical Society Museum.

“I like to think that they [the former building owners] didn’t want the city to be tearing it down and so they took the opportunity with the historical society to buy the building,” Jan Heinemann, the curator for the Bremer County Historical Society, said. “That was about 1960, and they started moving things in. By the 1990s they had displays all the way to the third floor.”

As visitors walk through the front door, a staircase to the second floor greets patrons. To the left lies the Veterans’ room, filled with bullets, outfits and pictures from every war in the United States’ history.

To the right is the parlor room, featuring two pianos and a collection of books. If patrons choose to go straight, they will run into the church room, which includes bibles and other artifacts.

The museum includes artifacts and exhibits from all towns and villages in Bremer County, including Janesville, Readlyn, Tripoli, Sumner, Denver, Plainfield and Frederika. The collection of artifacts started as a pair of display cases in the lower levels of the Bremer County Courthouse, also located in Waverly.

The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution noticed antiques had been were being taken to the dump instead of preserved. The chapter installed display cases and donated antiques quickly spilled out of the cases.

“They started thinking ‘Well people must be interested, and so maybe a historical society should be formed,’” Heinemann said.

The School Room, located on the second floor of the museum, displayed the changes in technology and education in general. Bremer County had a number of one-room schoolhouses where young, typically female teachers tried to educate as many as 20 students, according to bremercountyhistoricalsociety.org.

“Sometimes there was little age difference between the teacher and her oldest students,” the website stated. “Despite all the challenges, an amazing amount of learning took place in those buildings.”

The ‘true Bremer County treasure’ is entirely owned, operated and maintained by volunteers in the society. However, the state of the museum could be in jeopardy. “

It’s gotten kind of precarious,” Heinemann said. “We used to have a lot of volunteers, back when the society was started it gave women a lot of things to do, because back in those days, women didn’t have as much to do. Then that changed over the years. Now it’s hard to find volunteers, and our old faithful volunteers, they got old.”

To volunteer, individuals can contact Heinemann via email at bremercountyhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or by calling (319) 3521309.

Volunteer duties include cleaning lights, watering plants and introducing visitors to the museum. Individuals can also assist the organization by locating and applying for grants to sustain the museum or through donating money or items. The group has Amazon and Walmart wish lists, which can be found at bremercountyhistoricalsociety.org.

The museum is open from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 1-4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It is open seasonally May through October.

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