Bissell Buzz 2016/9

Fort Bissell is only open during the summer and we are one week past the halfway mark.  Our Visitors Book shows we have had visitors from 20 of the 50 states – all first time visitors.  We welcome and enjoy each and every one that takes the time to stop at the Fort and make a real visit out of it.

One of the precious exhibits in Heritage Hall is the Selbe music box, which is Swiss made and plays a total of 8 tunes or airs as they call it.  I am fascinated by the 1850’s invention of playing a variety of tunes and the selection to either repeat one tune or play through all of them.   The Selbe couple lived in the Point Pleasant, West Viginia area throughout the Civil War.  Following the war , there wasn’t work available and they decided to migrate west.  They left West Virginia by wagon train about 1868 and the men worked wherever they found it along the way.  They worked for the railroad in Pawnee City, Nebraska in 1863 and in 1888 they moved to Phillips County.  They settled at “Selbe Corner”, which was situated at the intersection of West Thunder and West 500 Roads, west of Phillipsburg town.  The music box travelled with them all the way and was inherited by John C. Selbe.  He passed away in 1976 and his wife Cora in turn inherited it.  Their daughter Edna who was born in 1925 told that the music box sat carefully on a protected table in a room that was not admissible to small children.  On rare occasions her father would play a tune for them.  In the mid 1930’s they purchased a piano and the music box became a permanent fixture atop the piano.  As the children grew to adulthood and moved on into their life activities, the music box was heard less often.  After Mrs Selbe moved to Cheyenne Wyoming, she donated the music box in 2000 to the Phillips County Historical Society where it now has a place of honor at the Fort.2016-07-22 15.41.23

As a celebration of the loved music box, we now have on display a private collection of 26 music boxes that were collected all around the world.  They have been grouped together in categories, e.g. Travel, Music, Figurines, Teddy Bears, etc.  Most are old, but there are some newer ones too.  Interestingly the most popular tune amongst them is the theme from the 1970 movie “Love Story”.  This will be on display till the end of the season.

Due to the busy program ahead with the upcoming County Fair and the Rodeo following the week after, we have not scheduled any further Fun Fridays for the current season, but have already worked out an exciting lineup for the 2017 season!   We will publish this at the beginning of our next season so everyone can plan better.

Come and visit the Fort and see most aspects of the Prairie pioneer life being showcased.  Our hours are Tuesday to Friday 9am – 4pm and Saturday 9am – 2pm.  Closed on Sundays and Mondays.  Regular updates and photos are posted on our Facebook page.

We can be contacted on (785) 543-6212 or on email at

Remember entrance is FREE. See ya at the Fort – hopefully soon!!

Ruby Wiehman – Curator