Downing Depot Museum News
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Submitted by Judy Sharp
My most recent article for the Depot Museum was in late March. My apologies for the delay. Some doctors, nurses, and technicians got hold of me in Columbia and now in Rochester, MN. Jim and I feel fortunate to be old enough to have Medicare, retirement income, and supplemental insurance. Insurance is expected to cover all medical costs, and I expect to recover.
Sadly we know that many families don’t have good health benefits. We recall “the old days” when few families had insurance. One early insurance company in Schuyler County was the Fraternal Organization for the “organized camp” of Royal Neighbors of America (Auxiliary to Modern Woodmen of America, or MWA). Several mementos have been donated to the Museum representing this organization that is still in existence today.
1. The charter was instituted on December 16, 1899, and signed by the Supreme Camp of Royal Neighbors of America on December 18, 1899. This Camp had 20 original members. Donated by Mrs. Margaret Devito, Kirksville, Mo.
2. A picture of Downing’s uniformed Modern Woodmen lodge members dates about 1900. Donated by Charles H. Cook, 1978.
3. A rug was used by Olin Jefferies’ father when he was a member of Modern Woodmen Lodge in Lancaster, around 1910. Donated by Olin Jefferies.
4. The MWA emblem was engraved on a special axe head, the symbol of the Fraternal Organization for the “organized camp.” Donated by Evafae & Olin Jefferies.
These days flyers can frequently be seen at cash registers and bulletin boards, posted about donations needed to support a family burned out of a house or a terribly ill child. Sometimes donations are critical in helping families deal with an accident, injury, or devastating illness. It is gratifying that many people do find the will and ability to give, to help others.
It’s not that any one person or family deserves support any more or less than another. Sometimes circumstances bring a crowd and money support flows, and other times life puts difficulties in the way of support, opening alternative paths not immediately apparent. It was groundbreaking when Truman University allowed employees to donate their sick days to co-worker Teresa Wheeler, when the Wheelers’ young daughter required an extended stay at a specialized hospital in Texas.
Recently it was heartwarming to see the enormous crowd that showed up at the Downing Appreciation Days Building for Stewart Blessing’s benefit dinner and auction. The Blessings are active in the area’s 4-H, agriculture, animal shows and fairs, hunting, church, education, and are descendants of the original H.H. Downing family. Stewart has esophageal cancer and is fighting it under the care of Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. I know Stewart’s family appreciates the huge support displayed—the organization, donation of items for auction, food, attendance from all around, and in the end, the monetary donations to help cover their expenses. To me, this is a good example of why living in a small-town community is so meaningful.
We don’t know all the plans God has for each person or one family. We don’t know how our lives are best lived out, where or what we are meant to fulfill, or how to use our God-given talents for the best. But I believe, even in the worst of times, God is with us, and the future will become better. If you are limited by health care expenses, we send our prayers and good wishes for you to maintain a good outlook and good health.
For an individual appointment to view the Downing Depot Museum collections, to donate items or monetary support for the Museum, call Jerry or Margaret Scurlock, 660-379-2467, Carol or Don Scurlock, 641-929-3915, or Judy Sharp, 660-342-1454. We’ll see you at the Depot