Bissell Buzz 2017/4

Phillips County is 150 years old this year.  How many people know about all the towns that were once here in the County and now gone?  Names like Bloomfield, Dickeyville, Germantown, Goode, Silica, Truesdell, West Cedar, Wolfsburg and others are now only names in a register.  Most of them had post offices, but were discontinued even before the turn of the century.  Today there is hardly a trace of their previous existence other than perhaps a cemetery.  Woodruff even had a newspaper named “The Budget” and in 1910 had a population of 200.  Some towns had their names changed, e.g. Speed (Big Bend), Gretna (Dana), Glade (Marvin) and Logan (Deeversville).  Kirwin is the oldest town in the county, having been established in 1869 and fortunately is still with us, although one can hardly believe what a flourishing place it once was when you drive through it now.

A young local resident visited the Fort last week and told us of what he already had discovered with his sophisticated metal detector in and around Phillipsburg.  One cannot help but wonder if he could go to all the locations of these old towns, what he would find.  He has expressed interest in bringing some of these “finds” for a special limited time display to the Fort.  We are sure this would make an interesting display!

Our Fun Friday Blacksmith Shop was such a wonderful success.  Despite a scorcher of a day, a total of 20 kids attended, some accompanied by their parents.  I am sure they all learnt something about this dying trade.  The two winners of the lucky draw were Azariah Christy and PJ vanderLingen.  Harlan Nonhof and his assistant Jerry Wisinger did a good job braving the heat.  In the afternoon the fire was utilized further when another person joined in to come and work on a part that is to be used in the restoration of a Conestoga wagon.  We are delighted that our humble blacksmith shop can be useful in this way too.

This coming Friday we will be doing our ever popular Scavenger Hunt.  This one will be slightly different and have an educational edge while still having fun.  Each participant  will receive 2 paper sacks and must divide their found treasures between Native American and Settlers.  Children from 6 to 12 years are invited to come and spend an hour or two of fun at the Fort.  We will start at 10am and if you are sending your child, please contact us to let us know in order to prepare beforehand.  With the current hot weather, it is also strongly advised to let them wear a hat and bring something to drink.

Once again a reminder that we are currently awaiting nominations for our Wall of Fame for 2017.  Any person from Phillips County who has made a contribution of value to the community, can be nominated.  Previous people that we honored in this way are Tad Felts, John Mason, Eunice Boeve, Betty Berney and Beth VanRoekel.  Please let those nominations come in!

Our hours are Tuesday to Friday 9am to 4pm and Saturdays 9am to 2pm. We are closed Sundays and Mondays.  Regular updates and photos are posted on our Facebook page.  We can be contacted on (785) 543-6212 or by email at Remember entrance is FREE!  Come dig the history at Fort Bissell!!

Ruby Wiehman – Curator