Where brave deeds & heroes meet Take a look at the intriguing stories of Boone County as you journey back to central Iowa’s bygone era set in the scenic river valley. The central holdings of the Boone County historical collection are maintained in a 1907 Masonic Temple that sets the stage for your discovery of the past. The History Center is a perfect stop for visitors of all ages who come to delight in stories about fascinating characters such as Kate Shelley, Milton Lott, and Carl Fritz Henning. Featured exhibits on the main floor are constantly changing at the Boone History Center. Examples of rotating displays that change every 3-4 months include 100 Years of Boone Municipal Band, Boone County Law Enforcement, Masonic History, and much more. With new and developing exhibits at the History Center visitors can come again and again while the museum envisions and interprets Boone’s diverse and vibrant past. On the main floor of the History Center, visitors are greeted by the longest standing grocery chain that took root, in Boone, in 1938. The main floor namesake “Fareway Gallery” welcomes visitors with high beams of mahogany and a dedicated group of volunteer docents (museums guides) who are available to help visitors tour the facility or trace their genealogical roots. Top to bottom, the History Center is packed with stories that include Boone’s internationally recognized railroad heroine, Kate Shelley, telling the story of her bravery on the night of July 6th, 1881. As the story of a young gal unfolds, Kate alerted Chicago & Northwestern Railway officials that a pusher engine had crashed into Honey Creek. Though two men had been swept away, two survived and needed to be rescued. Visitors can cross a model of the Des Moines River bridge, like the one that Kate crawled across on her perilous venture. A narrative brings to life that fateful night, the flooding between Boone and Moingona, as well as vignettes of Kate’s life and times. Highlights of the tour of historical artifacts include ceremonial medallions and the original lantern that Kate carried over the bridge. Pioneering Iowans forged new agricultural pursuits and made their homes on the barren prairies of Iowa. Many survived storms and harsh winters to tell the tales of harder times that shaped the place and people of Boone County. Observe the handwritten journals and photographs of the first and longest serving caretaker of Ledges State Park, consider first American industries that were developed at the turn of the 20th Century, realize the importance of natural resources in Boone’s Des Moines river valley, and the bustling beginnings of downtown Boone. Other exhibits include the Sergeant Major Marilyn Gabbard Military Gallery (SMMG). Sgt. Major Marilyn Gabbard was the highest-ranking female soldier to lose her life in Iraq. The SMMG Military Gallery provides a glimpse of Boone military exploits in displays of military artillery, uniforms, weapons of war, photos, flags, and artful depictions that span the Dragoons of 1847 to demonstrations of military service and achievement by Boone County soldiers. The exhibit encompasses Boone’s involvement in the United States theaters of war from the 19th Century through Iraqi Freedom. In 2017-18, the History Center is undertaking a major building improvements project that will enhance the exhibits on both the main and 2nd floors of the museum. However, visitors are still being welcomed for history tours from January to November 11th, 2017. A lower level community room is available for family reunions, social events, and business meetings, and is available year-round. The lower level offers a completely furnished and modern commercial kitchen equipped to serve up to 130 guests. Each year the Boone History Center hosts a variety of heritage and community events, many in partnership with other non-profit organizations. 2017 brings annual events such as “Run for the Trees” which takes place at the Iowa Arboretum on Saturday, April 29th. In late July, the History Center opens their dining room to the public by welcoming everyone to join in as participants of the Bluff Creek Triathlon prepare to compete. This dinner invites visitors and residents to enjoy an exceptional Barilla spaghetti dinner at the History Center. The Pufferbilly Days Quilt show in September is a family-friendly event with both indoor and outdoor quilt displays, along with food vending and free access to the History Center and Gift Shop for all Quilt Show guests. New and historically inspired events include the first ever YesterBoone event which offers an educational and creative platform to artists, historians, and authentic collectors. The event is completely free to spectators who engage with venues and exhibitors in a productive conversation about history and why it matters. YesterBoone takes place in late September; for more information, please check our website: www.boonehistorymusuems.com. New to the History Center is a museum gift shop which is located on the main level. The gift shop offers Iowa fine art, educational resources, t-shirts, vintage books, local foods and a variety of gifts and novelties. Plan your tour of the Boone History Center where brave deeds and heroes meet. Museum hours are 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Saturdays 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. from January 3rd to November 1st. Family Days are FREE and open to the public with special speakers who offer local insights to central Iowa history on a quarterly basis. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4 for Society members, $3 for youth, and FREE entry for children ages 6 and under. If admission prices are prohibitive, please ask about a complimentary ticket or family pass since several of our community partners allow the Boone History Center to offer FREE admission that removes the financial barrier for Boone County residents and visitors who seek cultural enrichment and educational opportunities at the Center. Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace “Mamie Eisenhower is fondly expected to touch off a social renaissance and to lend a new warmth to the affairs of the presidency.” —Time magazine, January 19, 1953 Mamie Geneva Doud was born on November 14, 1896, at 718 Carroll St. in Boone. Mamie was the second of four daughters born to Elvera Mathilde (Carlson) and John Sheldon Doud. She grew up to become the wife of the 34th president of the United States, Dwight David Eisenhower. While Mamie was still an infant, the Douds moved from Boone to Cedar Rapids. In 1905, after making a fortune in the meat packing industry, Doud moved his family to Colorado where they eventually settled in Denver. However, Mamie never lost contact with her mother’s Boone family, the Carlsons. Throughout the 1940s to the 1960s, the Eisenhower family regularly visited Boone. After Ike’s death in 1969, the Eisenhower family frequently visited Boone. Mamie continued to return to Boone, making her last trip in 1977, two years before her own death. Over the years, the Birthplace was inhabited by many families, at one time housing three individual apartments that meant extremely close quarters for residents. By 1970, the Eisenhower Birthplace home was set for demolition and local citizens were quick to sound the alarm. The Friends of the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace raised thousands of dollars to obtain the home, and the land was donated for the relocation of The Birthplace in 1975 to a location across the street. Following five years of restoration, the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace opened on June 22, 1980. The restored Victorian home contains many Eisenhower and Carlson family heirlooms. The lower level boasts a fine gallery of Mamie and Ike artifacts, including Mamie’s baby shoe given by Mamie Eisenhower, two of Mamie’s White House gala dresses, along with coordinating first lady jewelry pieces. A detached summer kitchen and carriage house are also located on the property. The carriage house, erected in 1982, contains the Chrysler Windsor Sedan given to Uncle Joel Carlson by the Eisenhowers in 1948 and Mamie’s 1962 Plymouth Valiant. Recent renovations include a grounds expansion and facility improvements. The history of this little home is charming, without the notoriety of a celebrity. The highlight for many guests is often a first-hand experience with the museum guides, who bring to life the spirit of Mamie. Through their interpretations of the Eisenhower history docents (museum guides) genuinely deliver a memorable visitor experience as they walk guests through the home with care and interest. Every summer, 45-60 docents participate in the seasonal operation to keep Mamie and Ike’s Boone legacy and history alive and flourishing. The Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace, operated by Boone History Museums, is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1:30 to 5 p.m., June 1st through October 31st. Also available for group tours and by individual appointment. To book your tour, please visit the Boone History Museums website (boonehistorymuseums.org) or contact Judith McMahon at the Boone History Center, 602 Story Street, Boone, Iowa, by phone: 515.432.1907 19th Century Iowa Every Two Miles a Schoolhouse Hickory Grove School - Slates and Schoolmates The school, originally built in 1889 in the northeastern corner of Yell Township, allows young visitors to sit in desks once occupied by students and for guests, of all ages, to remember a time that echoes a simpler era that can feel both comforting and primitive. Visitors to Hickory Grove imagine a time when the best seat in the room, on a cold December morning, was next to the potbelly stove where children would listen to the teacher clicking chalk against the board; with their duty being a return of an answer on their own small slates. Historical maps, world globes, teaching tools, school primers, encyclopedias and a variety of country school artifacts amplifying a collection that spans from 1889 to 1956 when the school house finally closed its doors on May 11th. The museum was formerly located at Don Williams Recreation Area but was moved in late 2006 to the site of the Battin Chapel, which contains a wellpreserved railroad depot in addition to the chapel and school. Boone History Museums and the Battin Heritage Association jointly sponsor the museum located at the juncture of old Highway 30 (E41) and J Avenue between Odgen and Boone. To arrange a tour of the school and the other attractions on the site, contact Judith McMahon at the Boone History Center by calling 515.432.1907 or by visiting: www.boonehistorymuseums.org For weddings at Battin Chapel, please contact The Battin Heritage Association at PO Box 759, Odgen, IA 50212 COLE SCHOOL - The Tittle Brick Schoolhouse on the Prairie Cole School operated from 1888-1933 and is located northeast of Boone on R Avenue (843). This school is notable due to the unique brickwork of this historic structure that supports three layers of brick. The school was adopted by the De Shon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) who completely and accurately restored the site. The restoration process at Cole School included extensive masonry work with complete tuck pointing, a whole new floor to replace the floor lost to time and elements, great cleaning (due to sheep once housed inside of Cole School for some time) and new blackboards which came from a local high school. School desks were acquired from local auctions, and a variety of books, school related artifacts, a potbelly stove and teacher supplies are all part of the Cole School collection. Books were donated from a local country school private collector, and a working partnership with Franklin School (located in Boone) allows an annual field trip for students each year. The Country School Association of American has recognized the facility on their national registry of rural school houses. DAR maintains the site and visits to Cole School can be arranged by contacting DAR Member: Marilyn Tagesen at 515.490.2207 Kate Shelley Park & Museum "If you must go, do what you can." July 6, 1881, is a date forever rooted in Boone County’s history. As the shadow of midnight encroached on the landscape of the river valley of Moingona, Iowa, and a ferocious storm raged in the vicinity of the Shelley Homestead, 15-year-old Kate Shelley was considering the fates of others. Dressed in a simple prairie dress, donning a rain hat, she prepared for unforeseen danger. Her mother pleaded for her to stay home, knowing that she could lose her life, but still, Kate persisted and finally, her mother gave in, saying, “If you must go, do what you can.” At that, Kate Shelley left in the pelting rain. First, she ensured the safety of the family’s livestock by freeing the animals from their confines in the barn before they could perish in the teeth of the storm. Then, she crawled across the Des Moines River Bridge by grasping railroad ties, spaced 2 feet apart in places, under thundering skies and over frothing black waters that lapped beneath her, she advanced to save the lives of those in danger, including herself. Imagine inching yourself over the same river bridge, in torrential rains, where your sibling lost their life some months before. Kate made her way over the bridge in lightning strikes and pelting rain that hammered her back and tore her dress. Intensifying her fear, “Will I be next?” she must have asked herself. Staring down through the expanse of space, it would be as if one were looking into oblivion, hearing and feeling the raging river bashing the bridge; it would seem as if one’s destruction was close at hand with only a kerosene lamp in her hand. That lantern, being her only companion, was battered and finally extinguished on the way. Her fear of drowning may have been a secondary factor when she realized that two voices were calling to her from the swollen banks of the river. Still alive, the men’s voice, hurling from the void below, must have meant a renewed spirit of hope that delivered the courage she needed. Kate Shelley’s bravery made her instantly famous from California to New York where her story played out in national headlines. She stopped a train and somehow, after escaping the dangers of the journey, she led a rescue party on a pusher engine back to the two survivors of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway wreck at Honey Creek. The medals she received for heroism are on display at the Boone History Center, along with the lantern she carried that night. Other mementos and accolades of her heroic act can be viewed at the Park and Museum. The Kate Shelley Park & Museum is open for group tours of 10 or more throughout the season. To book a tour, school field trip or to learn more about Kate Shelley, please call 515.432.1907 or visit the Boone History Center at 602 Story Street, Boone, Iowa.
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