Museum … Taylor County Historical Museum, that is

taylor county historical museumFor the A to Z April blog challenge, ‘M’ has to be for museum. More specifically, it stands for the Taylor County Historical Museum in Bedford, Iowa.

Bedford, about twenty miles from Athelstan, the now-non-existent city from where the quilt squares were stitched in 1934, is home to a wonderful historical museum.

The quilt squares will be going here, to the museum, for their new home, eighty years after they were created. I got in touch with the museum about two years ago. The director, Helen Janson, has been a delight to get to know via emails. I just haven’t had the spare vacation time, or the financial resources, to make the trip to Iowa yet. (Too little vacation time and family in California, boys and grandkids in Arizona and a dad – also ‘made’ in 1934 – in Arkansas!) Yes, I could mail the set of quilt blocks, but I want to hand deliver them back home and meet some of the people in the area, walk the streets of what used to be Athelstan, and place flowers on the graves in Athelstan Cemetery.

Originally, when I saw the names stitched on these squares, my intent was to try to trace the families and get the individual squares to the descendants of the original stitchers. I knew that my boys would not want this set of quilt blocks. I have the two best boys in the whole wide world. But … they do not share their mother’s love of vintage quilts.

I thought that the families would like to have the squares that their grandmother or great grandmother made in 1934. Then, I thought of the dilemma involved in that undertaking. How would I decide where one square went if there were many descendants? Such as Leona Booher, who was mentioned in the ‘L: Leona’ post. She had 3 sons, 6 grandchildren, 9 great grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild (not to mention all her step grandchildren.) Yet, there’s only one quilt block that she made.

I discovered two other problems with this idea. First, since I bought these squares at a yard sale, obviously not all descendants place the same value on these bits of appliquéd muslin. Secondly, that would involve breaking up the set of squares into thirty different directions, which would be a shame since the squares stayed intact as a set for almost 80 years.

When I discovered the museum I knew which direction I wanted to go. The squares would go home, back to Iowa.

Helen told me that Evelyn Bownes, who made her square when she was nine years old, was a volunteer at the museum for several years before her death. It was exciting to hear that Evelyn supported the museum, where I wanted to get the squares to. Evelyn’s daughter, RC,  is also involved with the museum and it’s been my pleasure to make her acquaintance via our cyber world and to get in touch with Leona.

If you’re near southern Iowa, stop by and visit the Taylor County Historical Museum. I’ll be there as soon as I can get there!

Taylor County Historical Museum and Round Barn – Bedford, Iowa

The county has developed a four-acre historical complex by bringing in various historic structures. Visitors can look at a log cabin over a century old, furnished rural schoolhouse, print shop, bank building, small chapel, and depot. Near the depot a restored caboose has been placed. A rare, historic round barn is also located in the complex. A number of artifacts are on display in the museum building.

The Taylor County Historical Society operates the Taylor County Museum with all volunteer help, in an effort to preserve the heritage of the past so young people can visualize the things that once were, and develop appreciation for things as they are now. The museum features hands on exhibits of an 1800’s settler’s cabin, a one-room schoolhouse, a train station complete with caboose, a machine shed full of old farm machinery, a small replica of a Heritage Chapel and a fully restored 1907 Lenox Round Barn.

The Lenox round barn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was disassembled at the farmstead approximately 20 miles from Bedford and moved to the museum grounds where it was restored. The entire operation was funded through donations and historical preservation grants with a lot of volunteer labor.

Admission – None
Directions – on State Highway 2 west, Bedford, Iowa50833
Hours – 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday, April 1 – December 25
Phone – ( 712) 523-2041


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