While we continue our inventorying of LeRoy Lebens’ vast catalog of work here at SCHS, it is hard to miss his passion for nature and everything outdoors. Often times we will come upon long series of photographs showing outdoor scenes of all types: wildlife, flowers, trees, and people simply enjoying the outdoors. As we enter summer in Scott County, particularly on beautiful sunny days, it is easy to see how LeRoy was so captivated by these surroundings. What better way to celebrate Memorial Day weekend and summer than to share a small sampling of these outdoor pictures? We hope that these might inspire you to get outside this weekend to enjoy and explore the bounty of outdoor spaces and activities that Scott County and the Minnesota River valley have to offer us all. Perhaps you can channel some inspiration from these pictures and snap a few shots of your own! Happy Memorial Day from all of us here at Scott County Historical Society.
It’s kinda weird, creepy even, when today’s events reflect those from 100 years ago. This year marks the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I. While researching this topic I was struck by the similarities between what we’re experiencing today and WWI sentiments.
Before the U.S. got involved in WWI, the phrase “America First” was used by those wanting to stay out of the war. This same phrase was used in the 2016 presidential campaign.
President Wilson stated: “The World must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.” Barack Obama stated: “…we must recognize that lasting stability and real security require democracy.”
Loyalty – Surveillance
Being of German descent was not a positive fact during the war. Since Scott County was settled by a majority of Germans, loyalty to America became a public issue. This pamphlet of a speech by Julius Coller, clearly illustrates this public demonstration of loyalty. In Belle Plaine, a movie that had a pro-German bent, was thrown into the street and burned by local citizens!
Not only were you expected to demonstrate your loyalty to the U.S., you were also encouraged to turn in those you suspected of German sympathy. “It is the duty of every good citizen to communicate to proper authorities any evidence of sedition that comes to his notice.” New York Times, July 1917. “Clip and send to us any editorial utterances they encounter which seem to them seditious or treasonable,” Literary Digest. All of this brings to mind today’s wire taps, surveillance, Wiki Leaks, and investigations.
The Immigration Act of 1917, among other things, required that immigrants be able to read and write in their native language, which led to standardized literacy tests. Standardized testing continues today in schools across the county.
WWI introduced air raids and poison gas – precursors to today’s chemical weapons, bombings, and nuclear war threats.
It’s funny how researching the past can give you a clearer understanding of the present, and an understanding of how personal beliefs/conduct, and national and global relations evolved.
The SCHS newest exhibit: The Great War: Scott County in World War I, opens June 22, 2017. Special guest speaker Iric Nathanson, author of World War I in Minnesota.
It’s been a busy few months at the SCHS! Below are photos and highlights from some of our recent programs.
– In February, we learned about the lives of several African-American men and women who lived in 1800s Shakopee, thanks to guest presenter David Schleper of the Shakopee Heritage Society.
– In March, Shelley Gorham from the Minnesota DNR taught us all about the Minnesota River valley, from the history of fur trading in the area to present-day habitats and wildlife. (PSSST- if you haven’t yet visited the SCHS’s “Minnesota River” exhibit, there’s still time! It will be up through the end of May!)
-In April, guest instructor David Hudson showed us how to make our own lye soap, just as people did in the old days. (Well, except we had the advantage of microwaves to help speed up the process!)
We’ve also had lots of fun kids’ programs recently!
– If you visited the museum on just the right Saturday in January, February, or April, you may have seen students carving tools out of rocks, throwing darts with an atlatl, or digging for artifacts in the museum garden. This was all part of our Youth Archaeology program. Big thanks to the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund for making these workshops possible!
– Meanwhile, younger kids enjoyed singing songs, listening to stories, and making crafts at our monthly Kids Kraft program, a fun opportunity to introduce young children to the museum.
We have many more great programs coming up, including our annual meeting next Thursday, May 18 featuring guest speaker and local racing legend John Boegeman. Register for that program here, and stay up-to-date on all of our events by visiting http://www.scottcountyhistory.org.
Spring is here! The flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and the days are getting longer. Indeed, summer will nearly be upon us in a month!
Now that the weather is warming up, and the sun is shining more and more, don’t forget to step outside your house and enjoy the warmth you haven’t felt since last year, as well as the activities your town has to offer.
Call your friends, sit in the yard, and enjoy a picnic or a party, just like these Shakopee foundry workers did back in 1905.
Parades will soon start marching down the streets of towns, so don’t forget to set your chair on the curb and make memories like these individuals did during a parade in Belle Plaine in 1901! (And maybe…not so secretly… snack on some candy).
Baseball season is already well underway, so make your way to your local baseball diamond, eat a hot dog and some nachos, and cheer on your favorite team, just like the fans of this Rock Spring team did in 1910.
Try and make time for some leisurely afternoon walks in your local park, be it to listen to music, take your dog for a walk, or just to hang out with friends, like these young women did in 1905.
Last, but not least, hit the road! Head to your favorite destination, with your windows or top down, and enjoy the spring breeze on your face and in your hair. Have fun and make memories, just like Mathilda (Nyssen) Stans and her family did in 1905.