Downing Depot Museum News
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Submitted by Judy Sharp
Hope you’re all safe and healthy right now, with your food and money needs somehow being met. Don’t you wish you could visit with your ancestors of 1918? To see what the Spanish flu pandemic was like in these parts? There totaled 675,000 Americans affected and globally it killed 20–50,000,000 people. Yes, killed, millions. The population of Downing in 1910 was 513, and in 1920 was 566. There weren’t a lot of people to lose. Traveling conditions were much more limited so our area was more isolated. Telephones had begun being installed by 1903. There sure weren’t cellphones nor TV to get virus updates or directions on how to be prepared. Electricity didn’t come into Downing until the year after a bond was passed in 1923, so there also weren’t radios. For an interesting article on the Spanish Flu of 1918, see: https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-i/1918-flu-pandemic.
Using FamilySearch.com, 275 people could be identified who had died in, and/or were buried in Schuyler County during 1918–1919 (the smallest time spread that was necessary to run the search), as opposed to 15 in a typically healthy time period, 2018–2019. Remember, during the early 1900s Downing residents were also in Scotland County, but I couldn’t search for that.
Enough of this. Be safe. Be healthy. Watch out for others who are less privileged than you.
ANNOUNCEMENT: With Covid-19 in mind, our annual Smorgasbord fundraiser is going to be skipped for this year, 2020. But count on it, we’re planning on returning in 2021. Remember, that will be our state’s 150th anniversary and we’ll all celebrate. By then we’ll have time to spend a month gathering door prizes and donations from our supportive, local business owners, face to face; we’ll have the Military Room reconstruction completed and the Museum back in shape to have frequent visitors; and we’ll be able to have about 400 people join together (yes in one place) to visit and eat a good homemade dinner from Downing’s great cooks. Let’s all look forward to that time. Please add that to your calendar: June 6, 2021 – Downing Depot Museum Smorgasbord. We’ll see you there.
We have had progress on the Military Room since the previous status report. Steve Blessing and crew (Chris West, Tucker Waddle, and Brad Oliver) are installing the electrical system, and now we have names to send out our thanks. Good job gentlemen.
Leo Holton and his crew (thanks again) got all the walls up and the outside siding on. We thank Leo for donating the steel reinforcement for the cement floor and thousands of nails used to get the room standing and sturdy, and probably more that we don’t even know about. Good job gentlemen.
Hats, uniforms, helmets. That’s my current recording and identifying project while the veteran’s room is apart. I am amazed at all the parts and variables that go into making/describing hats. And, they’re all important in determining the age/time period, and sometimes place of use of a hat. Style of hat—Del Monico, enlisted garrison or flight cap, patrol cap, helmet, officer’s campaign hat, pile-lined storm cap? Green, which green, or blue, which blue? Wool, silk, felt, canvas? Front medallion? Brim all around, or bill on the front? Leather, plastic, or felted? Binding or piping? Sweatband in leather—smooth or which texture? Silk bow? Hatband in grosgrain ribbon—what width, what color; or leather—width, color, how attached? Medallion buttons? Braided band with acorns—gold, black, what color(s)? What type of stitch is used to sew the sweatband onto the hat? What size hat, where is the label, and what color is the label? Is there a chin strap and how is it attached? Top inside lining of hat—silk, plastic, both? And that’s just part of the hat.
When we get to uniforms, and medals, oh my! Good thing I like to research information! And you ask who wore these uniforms—Vaughn Ayer, Gene Kratzer, Robert Simmons, Jake Whittom, Clark Fountain, Earl Ruth, Billy Morgan, Jack Shepherd, H.E. Gerwig, and Jim Lewis, to name a few.
Remember to mark off this year’s Smorgasbord (one year skip only). Note down next year’s date of June 6, 2021—the Downing Depot Museum’s Smorgasbord will return.
Questions? Interested in the construction progress? Call Judy Sharp at 660-342-1454, or Jerry or Margaret Scurlock at 660-379-2467, or Carol or Don Scurlock at 641-929-3915.
Back at the beginning of construction, Leo Holton was getting ready to measure and cut a post for the Military Room.
Here, the ceiling and walls are framed out, ready to install the outside wood and then plan for electricity. The walls get electricity after the outside walls are in place. The ceiling will get the basics set into place, but the ceiling will be finished before the track lighting is installed.
Electricity has been set into the walls. The outside walls are done and the inside is now ready to go.
Some of the Depot Museum’s military hats showing where we look to identify the time period, find any designation of ownership, and research any mysteries that haven’t been identified.