The Timeline of Unique Stories from Waseca County


For many years the Waseca County Timeline had been a project waiting for attention. It was in 2011 that the project gained traction. It was the new Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage grants program that became a potential resource for significant funding. The Minnesota Historical Society became its administrator providing the online request portal and the process for accountability. More significant to the over 100 rural historical organizations is that approvals would ensure distribution to all areas of Minnesota, not just the metro area. We also became aware that Legacy funds could be used to hire an outside professional exhibit design firm to complete the project. Now after many grant requests rejected, rewritten, and eventually approved, the Timeline of Unique Stories exhibit is a reality. Abiding by museum and ADA standards, the exhibit is permanent. And yet someday there will be additions and some stories exchanged for other unique stories. For the time being, it is here for all to learn from and enjoy!

This innovative exhibit of over 150 years of Waseca County history opened October 8, 2015.


View our Online Interactive Timeline


The museum balcony had been in preparation since 2005. That was the year that the entire collection was re-evaluated, photographed and re-stored more efficiently--an enormous effort. But the vision was to reinvigorate the museum's exhibits utilizing the spaces on the balcony. During the next few years, track lighting was installed, the floors were refinished, and two walls were removed on the west balcony. Next, a contemporary hanging system of vertical cables and connectors was funded by the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation. Then WCHS won its first Legacy grant to partially fund a lift to the balcony and a new main floor bathroom. On October 8, 2015 we welcomed the public, members, donors, government officials to view our new permanent exhibit, "The Timeline of Unique Stories from Waseca County."

Between May 19 and July 19, 2015, the Waseca County History Center invited the County community and visitors to participate in a "Community Comment" period. The Timeline Panels of over 150 years of county historical highlights were printed on banner material and displayed at the museum and at the Waseca County Fair. We got revisions. We got comments on content. We got support for the project and anticipation for the finished exhibit---all this before the final production. Community input and collaboration are important elements to grant-funded projects of this size.

The physical design was inspired by our own Maplewood Park. How can you tell? Look carefully at the subtle patterns printed on the cases. The exhibit designers observed the natural beauty of the big woods oak, maple and basswood, and visualized the historical events of the Chautauquas, carriage paths, picnics, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts campsites, and the birders and naturalists who walked the paths of Maplewood Park. Its big woods are remnants of the vast forests that once covered so much of pre-settled Minnesota. The clearing of land provided vast agricultural growth across the western and southern parts of the state. Comparing old maps, it is clear that the remnant woods bordered the western prairie right through many counties including Waseca County.

Bret Pearson and Larry Hutchings, Museology Exhibits, shown preparing for installation.

We wanted our timeline exhibit to compete in a positive way with other local tourist sites. Would it instill interest and pride by area residents? We needed to focus on the most unique stories. More stories will be developed. Each requires research, documentation, writing, editing, visuals, design, production, funding and time.

Here are some of our criteria for our Unique Stories:

  • Was it a "first" or "last" in Waseca County?
  • Was it a superlative event or performance, like a championship?
  • What is the "cool" factor? Does knowing about it make you say "Wow!"
  • Does it make you want to find out more about this person, place or event?
  • Is there a balance of the ethnic diversity of Waseca County?
  • Is there a balance of the county's geography—town/township history?
  • Is there a balance of gender and age diversity?
  • Does each world, national or state event have a tie to Waseca County?
  • How unique is the entry?

Can you find the answers?

  • Who was Clarence Johnston and why is he significant to Waseca County?
  • What are vigilantes? Why was it so important to catch or deter horse thieves in the 1870s?
  • How did the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 impact Waseca County?
  • Why do you think Maplewood Park is so special?
  • What happened there in 1883? In 1899? In 2003?
  • What do the initials "E.A.C.O." stand for?
  • What does "integrated" mean? Why is that significant in 1901?
  • What is a Chautauqua? Where did it originate?
  • What did James Child write?
  • Why was music so important early in the movie industry? Is it still significant or is it just background? Who were Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel? Who were the Little Rascals?
  • What does it mean to be a "settler"?
  • What is a catalog? Where was George Herter born? Why did he need feathers for his boyhood hobby?
  • How many children did Alvin and Lucille Miller have? Can you name them? What township did they live in?
  • Why did friends call Wayne Brown "Bumps"? How many employees did Brown Printing employ?
  • Why are bees important? How did the Hofmanns become beekeepers? What did Charlie Hofmann do in a Janesville parade in 1956?
  • Why did David Kunst walk around the world? What was the name of his donkey? How many pairs of shoes did he wear out?
  • Where did Henry Gallagher go to law school?
  • How many Waseca County residents were killed when the 1967 tornado struck?
  • Why is Waseca’s Boy Scout Troop 85 so unique? What do Boy Scouts do for the community?
  • Why are Waseca County farms so productive?
  • Why are there so many Agricultural Education opportunities in our county?
  • What year did Edgar and Ethel Johnson start their business? What was the new technology that fascinated them? How did the E.F. Johnson Company help in WWII?
  • What 1920s crimes remain unsolved in Iosco Township?
  • Who was standing next to Sheriff Don Eustice when he was shot? What year did this happen?


Professional  Direction & Assistance
Museology Exhibits & Program Designers—Erin Anderson, Brett Pearson, Larry Hutchings
Clear Lake Press & Signs
Sue Garwood, Rice County H.S. Executive Director
Jessica Potter, Blue Earth County H.S. Executive Director
David Grabitzke, Minnesota H.S., Outreach Services
Melinda Hutchinson, Minnesota H.S., MHCH-Legacy Grants

Financial Support for Timeline Implementation
This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Historical Society from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.

Carl & Verna Schmidt Foundation
First National Bank-Waseca
Principal Financial Foundation
William and Patti Hoversten

Previous Support  for Timeline Project Research, Scriptwriting, Preliminary Comment, and Production Phases
Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Grants
Carl & Verna Schmidt Foundation
Waseca Area Foundation
E.F. Johnson Foundation
Waseca Depot Society
Waseca Monday Study Club

Timeline Committee
Sheila Morris, Project Director
Joan Mooney
Linda Taylor
Jan Hunter
Vanessa Zimprich
Pauline Fenelon
Donna Fostveit
Dave Zika

Research & Artifact Assistance
Clark Meyer
Karl Jones
Alvin and Lucille Miller families
Larry and Jan Hofmann
Michael Hecht
Don and Margaret Wynnemer
Scott Roemhildt
Jack and Mary Williams
Shield families
David Kunst
Shawn Pomeroy
Gregg Johnson
George Hagge
John Oblak
Bruce Hering
Barry and Brad Eustice and families
Kathy Parry-Brown Printing
Marianne Miller Strom

WCHS 2015 Staff
Joan Mooney, Co-Executive Director/Programs
Sheila Morris, Co-Executive Director/Development
Pauline Fenelon, Collections/Library
Vanessa Zimprich, Collections/Technology
Linda Taylor, Researcher
Jan Hunter, Researcher