EP006 Iowa Fremont County Historical Society Sandra Bengtson

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In this episode, Sean Thomas meets with Sandra Bengtson, the President of the Fremont County Historical Society in Sidney Iowa.

We discussed the facilities the Society manages which are the Museum, the Old School House, the Gathering Place, and the Ferrell House Museum.

The Society is very excited about the fact that digitization of archived Sidney newspapers has been completed. Sandra may now be able to find the date that the town started being referred to as “Rodeo Town USA”.

Congratulations to Sandra and team for rescuing several boxes of 150-year-old records from being destroyed by the County.

We discussed a HUGE project underway to prepare County Probate files for digitization. There are over 3000 of these to complete.

Great news! Sandra was able to confirm that Ulysses S. Grant did stay in the Cromwell House when it was a hotel! Sandra believes he may have been there with other political luminaries of the time in an attempt to start the Greenback Party. The original Hotel Registry book and other items can be seen in an exhibit in the museum!

We discussed the blessed Underground Railroad that existed in the County during the time of the Civil War. Sandra relayed an interesting story about two slave girls and how they escaped to freedom. You can learn more by listening to the program and by viewing the exhibit at the Museum.

Sandra relayed how the Jesse James gang operated in Fremont County and gave the listeners a wonderful story of the James gang robbing a bank in Imogene and then failing in an attempt to steal a fine team of local horses

Some goals of the Society for the coming year:

  • Over the Winter, Sandra would like to redesign the Society’s web site.
  • The Society needs to have a concrete parking area poured in front of the Museum and so needs the donations to fund that.
  • The Society would like to have a Gazebo built near the Museum to be used by the people of the county. Again, what is needed are donations to make that a reality.

We discussed some of the books available from the Society and about the Catholic Church in Imogene which was built in 1915, replacing another one that stood on the same spot which was built in 1880 but burnt down. The new church has an altar which was created in Italy and is really beautiful.

If you’re a listener in the area the society serves, OR if you’re a listener researching ancestors in the community the society serves and you’re not already a member, please consider joining and supporting the society!

The Society’s website, email address, and phone number are:

  1. https://fremontcountyhistorical.org
  2. fremontcountyhistorical@gmail.com
  3. Phone: 712 374 3248
  4. Fremont County, Iowa Genealogy Research | Facebook

The Society is very valuable to the community and the kinds of excellent services they provide. The society is truly one of our Preservation Oaks!

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