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Monday, July 13, 2015

Working at the Calumet County Museum

(I really have two blogs to write today, one about the motorhome and one about the museum, so I thought I would split them up) 

Steve and I both have committed to helping at the local county museum.  We volunteer on Sunday afternoons to help out, talk to visitors, and do some repairs around the buildings.

The museum is run by the Calumet County Historical Society. This group relies solely on donations to keep running, and volunteers to keep it open.  They have done so much with so little.  We really enjoy being there, just to look, explore, read, learn and enjoy the wonderful information about the small farming community and tiny town of Chilton. 

There are two main buildings, a log cabin, and the only three legged windmill around, donated to the museum by my knitting friend, Kay. Steve has helped with some of the lighting repairs and I have offered to help whip the fiber display into shape and get things labelled correctly.

Although it was a hot, humid, miserable day, we went anyhow to help open up and man the museum for the afternoon.  Luckily there was a nice breeze coming across from the cornfields that helped.  After we got the museum ready and opened up, I took the best of the four spinning wheels and got to work. Sitting outside in the breeze helped.  Hmmmmm a little oil, a new drive band, some tweaking and twisting... and soon I got it spinning!!!  YAY!!!!!

Visitors came and went throughout the afternoon.  A couple brought in some delightful kids, by the names of Alex and Abby. They were so curious and intelligent.  Full of questions and asking "What did this cost back then?"  "How old is this?"  etc.  It was fun to listen and watch them explore each display area.  Then I wrangled them into helping me wind some handspun wool yarn onto some of the wooden display pieces.  Alex took the photo of Abby helping me.  They both were so curious and it was quite enjoyable to help them see things through the eyes of someone 100 years ago.

(printed with their parents permission)

Here are some of the fibers they helped me to process and display. 
Now things look a bit better with fibers around the tools.

We seem to have a plethora of "yarn winders" which are used to wind on the newly spun and plied yarns, to be able to make them into the long loop type old fashioned skeins.  Now they can be dipped into sudsy water to wash the natural lanolin off the wool, or dipped into dye vats for color.

I still have more to do... clean up, oil the wood, string up the drive bands and arrange them in a nice order.  I get two great wheels to tackle (used for spinning cotton) and clean up more hand carders, hackles and shearing tools for the sheep.   Soon it will a display to be proud of.  For me, anyhow!  LOL 

Steve enjoys the other building to the east... donated by Mike Bolz.  It's full of the "Guy Stuff"  ... and there sure is plenty to look at!   When we help out at the museum, this is the building he mans, and loves to talk about machinery with the farmers and the other old guys who hang out here.

The main building to the west has more of the housewares, education, medical and historical archives.  A lot of books, photos, maps and display cases depict the history of this area.

Here are just a few Highlight Photos.....

 There are some lovely pieces from local buildings that have been torn down,
including these stained glass windows from a rural church.

The displays are arranged by small vignette rooms...
this one being store, grocery, and merchantile items

Here is a bit of household items, mainly showing a bedroom from the past

I am not going to bore you with a ton of photos of museum stuff, 
you just have to come and see for yourself! 

But THIS Is one of the most interesting items to kids.....

it's called a "transport basket"  
made by the Undertakers Supply Co. of Chicago.  

Soooo come on down to the museum next time you are in the area! 

We would love to have you visit, open on Sundays from 1-4 or by appointment.


  1. It sure seems that the two of you are the perfect volunteers to help with that museum!

  2. Sure would love to visit, but it's rather a long way for me:) I love places like that. We have several museums in the county I live in (Norfolk, England). My favourite is an old workhouse full of items from years ago. At the same museum they run a farm in the ways it use to be done.

    Thanks for sharing. Now off to have a look at the links. Sue

  3. Forgot to say. Those stained glass church windows are stunning. Thank goodness they weren't just scrapped.


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