Take a stroll down history lane at the museum


Roseau Rune Stone

by Jeff Olsen

Britt Dahl, the Roseau County Museum director/curator, is possibly the county's most interesting historian and has been the recipient of mounds of donated treasures.

After all, she might even have the old corsets the more prominent city gals wore while out on the town on Saturday evenings in Roseau County in 1898.

Whether it's possible or not, she just might be able someday to display the first jockstraps ever worn by the first football players in Warroad.

Generally, people hang onto those items until they decide to get rid of Great-Grandfather Willie Wilson's most prized possession.

A week ago, Ms. Dahl, who has been at the museum for 13 years and the curator since 2012, was in fine form and excited about all the changes that have transpired since Covid-19 shut down the place.

"We were closed from the end of March 2020 until the middle of January 2021," she said, noting that she was laid off for several months but has been very busy renovating the museum.

"With the redesign of the museum, I designed 40 plus new exhibits and kept some of the old ones like the Lightning Pants and the eggs (another unusual collection).

Oh, those lightning pants, and it could only have happened in the Greenbush area.

"Lightning struck her house in 1945 as she was bending over to grab some candy off the counter top. Her metal button on her new jeans touched against the metal on the counter top, and threw her across the room," said Britt.

At 11-years-old, Georgine Stanislawski possibly never wore jeans again after suffering burns to her hips, groin and legs.

Once burnt, twice shy is always a good adage.

Her exhibit includes the Roseau Times-Region article, dated August 16, 1945.

The bold heading declared: Lightning Shreds Girl's Overalls

The sub-heading read: Georgine Stanislawski of Pelonia Had Narrow Escape from Being Killed Saturday Afternoon.

For the record, she wore a new pair of Lee jeans, which are prominently displayed at the museum.

At every glance, there is more history and reasons to gawk. Like, where did they find these things?

There is a new military exhibit.

"I'm featuring some new uniforms that I received recently," she said, stating that some of the uniforms date back to the 19th Century.

"We now have Civil War and Spanish-American War artifacts, and we also have World War I, World War II, and the Korean War items on display."

She has also put up a Veterans Wall of Honor that the Roseau County Museum usually has displayed at the Roseau County Fair.

"It stretches out about 30 feet," she said, emphasizing that they have a whole new layout.

"You walk in and nothing looks the same as it did prior to our closing at the end of March 2020."

She laughed when it was mentioned that the museum doesn't yet feature an exhibit of the toughest women of Roseau County.

"You know, we should!" she said.

Some of the other new exhibits include Native Americans, Immigrants, Trappers, and Wildlife.

"We have a focus on doctors in Roseau County with an old dentist chair, too," she said, mentioning that another new exhibit includes items found in old general stores.

"There are a lot of pictures and informational posters with lots of history," she said.

Currently, Ms. Dahl is assisted by Linda Wojahn and Edith Swanson, who is a temporary assistant in inventory control.

"We have been very busy and, of course, we have the Roseau Rune Stone back in here too, which people need to be reminded of."

The stone is quite petite.

"It's only about two and a half inches round, and it's really quite small," she said, explaining that it has unique carvings with some kind of hieroglyphic writing.

Is it Native American?

"That or they say it might be Viking or anything like that, but it's never been determined what it was."

Forget about picking it up.

It's inside a protective glass display case.

The welcome mat is out.

"There is no fee. We recommend wearing a mask, but I'm not going to beat on them with a stick if, for some reason, they don't walk through the door with a mask on. We do have masks available and sanitizer. So, we're following the guidelines."

The museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Britt and company have been receiving great reviews.

"Everybody who has walked in has said, 'It's all fantastic!' They love the new design, they love the new exhibits, and we've got all new lighting within the galleries," said Ms. Britt Dahl, pleased with the new LED lighting that was paid for by a grant.

"So, it's a lot brighter in here now," she said. "We always enjoy seeing more visitors stopping in."


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