Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Articles written by Rachel Brazil


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  • Archival Anecdotes: By special request: the Great Hoax

    Rachel Brazil|May 20, 2024

    I took it as an honor when Eddy County Museum Board Member Sandy O'Connor asked me to join her for a visit to the office of John Hovey, a retired attorney who practiced law in New Rockford from 1964 to 2001. Our intention was to collect a series of letters regarding the placement of Chinese refugees outside New Rockford. Hovey donated three of these envelopes, each containing a letter, to the Eddy County Museum. The letters were addressed to the Hon. Mayor of the City of New Rockford,...

  • Archival Anecdotes: The postwar boom

    Rachel Brazil|May 13, 2024

    One of the oldest and most well-traveled artifacts residing at the Eddy County Museum is a coffee grinder that originated in Sweden circa 1820. The Matt and Bengta Mattson family brought it to North Dakota in the 1860s. After settling in Sheyenne, the Mattson family continued to use the handheld grinder until the 1920s. After one hundred years of service, it retired for at least 40 years. When the Eddy County Museum opened in 1965, Bernice Ostby of Sheyenne donated it to the collections. The...

  • Archival Anecdotes: A cross-section of time

    Rachel Brazil|Mar 25, 2024

    When Eddy County Museum was founded in 1965, there was a great sense of urgency among community organizations, civic clubs and individual supporters. They knew times were changing. A modern era was taking hold, and American life would never be the same. For those that donated items during those early years, we are grateful. These artifacts create the backbone of our little museums. For the volunteers who didn't record more information from the donors, we completely understand. In the 1970s,...

  • Archival Anecdotes: It's never too late for history

    Rachel Brazil|Mar 18, 2024

    It's fairly common at the Eddy County Museum that someone becomes overcome with deep emotion over a single item. Perhaps it is the Edison phonograph, a butter ladle or a collection of hatpins. When someone says, "My grandmother had one of these," they aren't just remembering. They are reaching back in time, into the histories of their elders. Other times museum goers experience an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, especially when they see something that takes them back to their own childhood. A...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Got mail?

    Rachel Brazil|Mar 11, 2024

    The Eddy County Museum is home to an exclusive collection of dozens of biographical histories that were collected and documented by The Pioneer Daughters, a club that flourished in the 1960s. These histories have been an incredible resource in helping to draw connections between the artifacts we house today, the people they once belonged to, and the individuals responsible for donating them to the museum. As a result the pioneer histories serve as the interpretive backbone to the museum's...

  • When rocks say "Hello!"

    Rachel Brazil|Mar 4, 2024

    When my husband and I moved to New Rockford almost fourteen years ago, it was because I had taken a position on the Spirit Lake Reservation to develop and teach a culturally-relevant college curriculum on natural resources. The first class I taught was on native plants and their uses, and half of the class consisted of elders who still remembered the plant names that their grandparents once used. It was a fascinating and collaborative effort as we navigated the space between indigenous knowledge and scientific methods. What I learned while...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Running water, a recent amenity

    Rachel Brazil|Mar 4, 2024

    If you've never taken a look at the Eddy County history book, "Century of Sowers," I encourage you to. Written in 1983 this book was printed in celebration of the county's centennial anniversary. Now there aren't many copies in circulation, but luckily anyone can access the full book on the Digital Horizons website at https://digitalhorizonsonline.org/digital/. Most recently, I consulted the book regarding the installation of running water in county homes. This interest developed after a...

  • Archival Anecdotes: The value of friends and neighbors

    Rachel Brazil|Feb 26, 2024

    A few weeks back, I got a message from a lovely gentleman by the name of Jim Winsness. He serves as the treasurer for the Wells County Historical Society, and wanted to learn more about how the Eddy County Museum developed the online collection. We exchanged a few messages back and forth before making arrangements for him to tour the museum grounds. When we entered the Stavanger Church, I eagerly began to show him our collection of wedding dresses and suits. He stopped for a moment, to take a...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Sugar and spice, and all things nice

    Rachel Brazil|Feb 19, 2024

    Perhaps some of you remember the nursery rhyme, "What Are Little Boys Made Of?" What are little boys made of? Snips & snails & puppy dogs tails And such are little boys made of. What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice And everything nice That's what little girls are made of. The rhyme dates back to 19th century England and is attributed to poet Robert Southey. Yet 150 years later, the second part of that poem hung in my childhood bedroom for years. I have to admit, it was a very...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Strong as steel, delicate as lace

    Rachel Brazil|Feb 12, 2024

    This week's featured photo might not seem like much to look at, but don't let your eyes deceive you. Pictured here is a thoughtful expression of love carefully crafted by William G.W. Milne for his bride, Mary E. Clark. Thanks to the pioneer histories listed in our online library at eddycounty.catalogaccess.com, we can get a small glimpse into William Milne's life. He was born to Eliza and William Milne in Ontario, Canada in 1875. The family moved near Grand Forks in 1882 and farmed land in Meki...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Connecting through time

    Rachel Brazil|Feb 5, 2024

    I must confess working as the archivist at the Eddy County Museum has been one of my most favorite positions I've ever held. That's a tough call to make considering I've waited tables at a Colorado mountain resort, cleaned thousands of Late Woodland artifacts from one of the largest prehistoric settlement sites in North America, curated faunal specimens at Southern Illinois University, taught college level classes and written for the New Rockford Transcript. My role as an archivist began in the...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Finding home, on or off the homestead

    Rachel Brazil|Jan 29, 2024

    The Pioneer Histories that we have on file at the museum do a wonderful job of helping us imagine what life must have been like not all that long ago. If you’ve never taken time to browse them in our online catalog, then I encourage you to spend a snowy afternoon doing just that. Visit eddycounty.catalogaccess.com and navigate to the Library tab to find the 39 transcribed histories ready to be read. One of the reasons that they are so fascinating was because they tell of the cultural phenomenon surrounding the Homestead Act. The Homestead A...

  • Archival Anecdotes: On the hunt for history

    Rachel Brazil|Jan 22, 2024

    History is all around us – from old buildings and signage to mementos and memories. Sometimes when we start looking for it, we find more and more to uncover. When Patty Johnson Hilbert joined the museum board in 2019, she began spending a lot more time in the museum and ultimately finding more interesting threads to weave into her family history. She was delighted to find school mementos belonging to her son and her aunt, Gretchen Bass. Even more exciting was when she learned that her father J...

  • Archival Anecdotes: The stories told

    Rachel Brazil|Jan 15, 2024

    Many Americans have a story of an ancestor who once lived in a far away land and made a big decision to leave home for a new place. These stories can be inspiring and can even lead to a greater understanding of our own existence. I first began studying my family tree after my father's passing in 2012. Learning about his lineage helped me cope in countless ways. I learned about my great-great-grandmother, Josephine who, according to family history, enjoyed ice fishing. I learned that she...

  • Archival Anecdotes: From all around the world

    Rachel Brazil|Jan 8, 2024

    Last week readers of Archival Anecdotes learned a little about the cabinet cards of the late 19th century, but we just barely scratched the surface. These 6.25-by-9.5 inch debuted in 1868; the smaller carte de visite had been invented in France in 1854. Considering this was just 18 years after the invention of the postage stamp, it was only natural that people would send photographs to their friends and families across the country and overseas. Photographers knew that their printed final product...

  • Archival Anecdotes: It takes two

    Rachel Brazil|Jan 1, 2024

    When it comes to wedding attire, there are two very important elements – the bride's dress and the groom's suit. While we tend to think of images of white wedding dresses and black wedding suits, historical images can show us just how expressive the dress (and suit) could be. Wedding dresses were often handmade, and consisted of two pieces. The bodice included the sleeves and torso, while the skirt draped to the floor. Wedding suits on the other hand were often made custom-tailored. Brides c...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Going to the chapel

    Rachel Brazil|Dec 25, 2023

    Of the three buildings that comprise The Eddy County Museum, the Stavanger Church is our most recent addition. Originally constructed in 1909, Stavanger Church served the rural population near Cathay for more than 70 years. After it closed in July of 1983, the church arrived at its new home on the Eddy County Museum grounds on Oct. 20, 1984. Many folks who visit the museum share a connection to the church. Some say, "I was baptized in this church," or "This is where my grandparents were...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Room to grow

    Rachel Brazil|Dec 18, 2023

    The Brantford Depot has gotten a recent facelift, so to speak. Sure, you might have noticed we put a fresh coat of paint on the outside, but the inside reveals more impressive efforts. Inside the building, you'll find several collections that range from natural history and household goods, to telecommunications and agricultural tools, to memorabilia and postcards. Upon entering the depot, you'll find more than 65 unique taxidermy specimens, many of which are native to the region. In addition to...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Change over time

    Rachel Brazil|Dec 11, 2023

    Once upon a time, the Eddy County Museum was nothing more than a growing idea. That idea took root deeper when the board secured and relocated the one-room Hulbert Schoolhouse from Superior Township. I don't imagine the schoolhouse stood empty for long. The meeting minutes of the Pioneer Daughters reflected excitement as volunteers made arrangements to move items from storage to the schoolhouse. Over the next two decades, the museum continued to grow in size and in number of artifacts. The Brant...

  • Archival Anecdotes: New growth ahead

    Rachel Brazil|Dec 4, 2023

    Welcome back for another season of Archival Anecdotes! For those of you who aren't familiar with this column, please allow me to make an introduction. It was late in 2019 that the Eddy County Museum and Historical Society decided to launch the interpretive column for the winter months. Since then, I have written 126 of these entries, and I am planning on writing a couple dozen more before the museum opens again at the end of May. Perhaps that is a cue for another introduction. I have served as...

  • Archival Anecdotes: May 8, 2023

    Rachel Brazil, Eddy County Museum Archivist|May 8, 2023

    If you've been a reader of Archival Anecdotes, you may have noticed that I like to use metaphors and stories to get a better sense about artifacts, histories, people or places. While it is true I learned how to interpret artifacts in my formal training as an anthropologist, there is also much more of this perspective that I gained from my relatives – many of whom now reside in a cemetery some 900 miles away. I don't make it back to visit nearly enough, and all too often the reason for a trip i...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Dual perspective

    Rachel Brazil|May 1, 2023

    There seems to be a theme running in Archival Anecdotes as of late. Over the past few weeks I have shared insights into the lives and contributions of folks who helped charter the Eddy County Museum. It turns out that some of those early members made their contributions in pairs, like Alice and Joe Rindt. If I were to go back to 1966 in the meeting minutes, I imagine we could learn a lot about the dynamics the couple contributed to the board, but that is far more archiving than I'm able to do at...

  • Archival Anecdotes: April 24, 2023

    Rachel Brazil, Eddy County Museum Archivist|Apr 24, 2023

    History is what we make it Dorothy Payne Beardsley (1894-1985) lived to be 90 years old and experienced nearly a century of rapid cultural change in her lifetime. She was involved with the Minerva Club and Pioneer Daughters, and became one of the founding members of the Eddy County Museum. Her obituary, as printed in the New Rockford Transcript, highlights her educational achievements as a 1913 New Rockford High graduate and a scholar at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio. A look through...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Lasting impressions

    Rachel Brazil|Apr 17, 2023

    Legacy is a word that conjures images of grandeur. It has always felt like a fancy word, with wide expanses and a sprinkling of crown-jewels. While many people talk about creating a legacy to leave behind for future generations, Merriam-Webster offers a more neutral notion of the term, "a thing transmitted by or received from an ancestor, predecessor or from the past." Eddy County Museum fits that definition, as it was left for us by long-lived community members in the 1960s. They knew the...

  • Archival Anecdotes: Share the History

    Rachel Brazil|Apr 10, 2023

    I am counting the days until the snow piles outside the museum melt and allow access to any of the buildings, and the artifacts within. Don't get me wrong, I love the photographs and stories I've been working with all winter, but I get especially excited to document and display artifacts. All the clues can come together to provide us with incredible insight. Last spring I had a particularly delightful time extracting wedding dresses and suits from the various closets. It's easy to understand...

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