Historical society to try a new way of exploring Greene County’s history

JEFFERSON, Iowa, Nov. 7, 2022 — There are many different ways to explore history, and the Greene County Historical Society is trying out a new approach this Saturday afternoon, Nov. 12, at the museum in Jefferson.  Up to 25 people are invited to take part.

They’re calling it “Leafing Through Greene County History,” and it’s set for 2 p.m.

The free event has two parts, program director Margaret Hamilton explained.

“First, we’ll sit in a circle, and four members of the historical society will share interesting artifacts from the museum’s collection,” she said. “Everyone can look at the items they’ll display and get some new insights into the museum and our county’s history. There’ll also be time to share your own memories – not required – on the topics we’ll discuss. We’ll follow that with a tea – with scones, clotted cream, jam, tea sandwiches and cookies”.

There will be four presenters who will pick some museum artifact or document, and start the conversations.  The four, all from Jefferson and all active members of the historical society, know the museum’s collection well.  They are:

–Mikki Schwarzkopf, who will discuss Greene County diaries and autograph albums, as well as a registration book from the old Head House Hotel.

–Jed Magee will talk about the Greene County Courthouses.

–Mike Piepel will share newspapers, posters, yearbooks and atlases.

–Dianne Piepel will talk about historic homes.

Magee said the idea for sharing history this way popped up after a conversation the four of them and Hamilton had one at the museum one lazy afternoon this past summer.

“We were sitting by the bookshelves, and one of us had pulled out a ring binder of historical information,” Magee said. “I think it was either about local theaters or movies that had played here.  All of us were telling related stories we knew, and I think we were all surprised how interesting it was.  Then we realized that doing this kind of thing would help people understand just how much we have in the museum, and learn more about all of it.”

He encourages everybody to give it a try.  “If this first ‘Leafing Through History’ approach seems successful, I’m sure we’ll do another one, probably next spring,” he said. “And remember, you don’t have to be an expert at all – just curious about the things you can find in the museum.”

Because the discussions on Saturday will happen in a circle, the event is limited to 25 actual participants. If you want to be involved, RSVP to reserve your seat, either by emailing Hamilton at hami0017@hotmail.com or calling (515) 386-4408.

Robby Pedersen led us in a “time travel” adventure back to about 1875 in program at Scranton

SCRANTON, Iowa, Nov. 5, 2022 — Robby Pedersen of Jefferson led the Greene County Historical Society members & guests in some time travel on Friday, Nov. 4, in a program at the United Methodist Church in Scranton.
Pedersen’s focus, in his discussion of both heirloom furniture building and pioneer living, was circa 1875. As most local folks know, he is the owner of “RVP-1875,” which makes furniture using only the tools and styles available in that year. It was a brief era when the master furniture trade was at its peak in Iowa — with 2,013 of the tradesmen registered back then. Soon after that, factory-produced furniture took over.
Robby Pedersen

Pedersen, who is a native of Jefferson, operates his business as a genuine furniture maker — typically producing 70 pieces per year for customers who are on waiting lists — as well as a museum and tourist attraction. He usually dresses like the cabinet makers dressed in 1875.

He also heads the non-profit “History Boy Theatre Co.,” which presents musicals, comedies and dramas in a 140-seat theatre he built in the rear of his downtown building that was once a lumberyard.
Insights from Pedersen during his program on Friday:
–“I’m so glad to be doing what I do, here in Greene County. You know, you feel most at-home when you’re actually home.” After Navy service and his college education at Iowa State University, he started his business while portraying a master cabinet maker at Living History Farms for a decade. Then he moved it first to Story City and then, 15 years ago, back home to Jefferson.
–“Something that has served me well is that I’m braver than I am smart. I’m one to dive-right-in and try, on almost everything.”
–When factories took over furniture making, “we lost 800 years of history in about 20. That’s what happened in my trade. It’s sad to think about that. And that’s why I’m doing what I do — re-creating that history and sharing it with people.”
–“The most important element of a pioneer farm was having two trained oxen.”
–“We have a lot more trees in Iowa today than we did in the 1880s. Back then during settlement, Iowa was 85 percent prairie and 15 percent timber.”
–“Life was hard in pioneer times. People worked long, long days building their farms and just getting by. They say that local politics didn’t come into it for at least a generation — 20 to 30 years after the first settlers got here — because people were so busy they didn’t have time to get involved in that stuff.”
–“People ask me if I would’ve liked to live in 1875, and my answer is a quick no. I mean, I like my movies, I like driving my truck around, I like medicine — and all the other things we have available to us today. But I’d like to visit 1875 for a couple weeks, you know? That’d let me see what people’s lives were really like back then.”
title tag
    How To Get Involved
    title tag Calendar of Events
    title tag Membership & Donations
    Help us grow! Donate, become a member, or renew your membership today!
    see more arrow
    title tag Historical Markers
    Did you know there were so many historical sites in this county? See many of them on the map here!
    see more arrow
    title tag Videos
    See interviews with historical figures, events and programs we have recorded, and much more!
    see more arrow
    title tag Historical Trivia

    How many courthouse structures have been built on the site of the current Greene County Courthouse?



    There have been three courthouses built where the Greene County Courthouse stands today.  Ground was broken on the current courthouse in November of 1915, the cornerstone was set in May 1916 and the new building was dedicated in October of 1917. The centennial celebration of the courthouse is already underway, with events being planned by the “Courthouse 100” committee, with support from the Greene County Historical Society.  You can learn more about the courthouse history and the celebration plans on the Facebook page “Courthouse 100: Greene County, Iowa.”


    Sorry. Try Again!

    title tag Featured Image Archive
    This is a gallery of our featured images which are no longer viewable on the home page. See if you have missed any by clicking here!