Well-traveled collections objects

These items were already heirlooms when they came to Nebraska in a covered wagon.

manure fork

This head of a manure fork was forged by Vermont blacksmith in 1820, and the handwoven, double weave coverlet below was made in Pennsylvania between 1810 and 1825. Both items were later carried to Minnesota, and in 1865 were carried on a six-week journey by oxen and wagon to a homestead in Nemaha County, Nebraska.

What would you carry if you had to pack up all your belongings in a covered wagon or a steamer trunk?

These items were already a generation old before they arrived on the Nebraska frontier. Clearly, they have a practical use, but it’s not hard to imagine they meant more than that.

The couple who brought these items, Benton and Martha Jane Aldrich, carried only one piece of furniture with them: their bookcase. Eventually, they hosted a well-stocked lending library in their sod dugout. Look for “A Farmer’s Passion for Knowledge: Benton Aldrich and the Clifton Library Association,” by John Irwin, in the Summer 2018 issue of Nebraska History.

History Nebraska members receive quarterly issues of Nebraska History as part of their membership; single issues are available for $7 from the Nebraska History Museum (402-471-3447).

—David L. Bristow, Editor




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About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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