I went to a Civil War Museum in Battle Lake, Minnesota a couple of weeks ago.
A little museum with a hand lettered sign out front that said Civil War Museum. I went mainly to find fodder for a blog post.
It ranks as one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been.
I can only dream that I can convey just a bit of how much I enjoyed it.
I’m putting up about a tenth of the pictures I took.
I hope to do another blog post about the other things in this museum, the NON-Civil War related things.
The picture above is of the museum, located in an old hotel called Prospect House. I stole this picture off the Prospect House Facebook Page.
Go to Facebook and search for Prospect House & Civil War Museum to read more.
Less than half the house was open to the public. There is more to find.
Mr. Jay Johnson, who owns and runs the museum, commented that he knew some of it was just plain TRASH they hadn’t thrown out.
But one hundred year old TRASH is really fascinating.
Here is Jay Johnson. He made our tour so fascinating. He’s not a historian. He’s not sure what to do with all this stuff.
But he knows it’s very rare and cool and he’s trying to treat it with respect and share it with the world.
It’s his home. He moved there to care for his mother in her declining years and now this huge house is all his.
As he began going through the house, while his mom was still living, he realized NO ONE had EVER thrown anything away in this large hotel (well, large for the small town it is in).
In among so much cool stuff, he found a treasure trove of possessions belonging to his grandfather, James ‘Cap’ Colehour, a captain in the Civil War.
That’s his picture above holding his Spencer Rifle, given to him during the war. Below are two sleeves from a Union uniform. Cap Colehour was wounded on two separate occasions. Both times he survived, healed and went back to the fighting.
Cap saved both sleeves and brought them home with him.
And Mr. Johnson found them in the house. They’re in a glass case in the museum along with pictures and letters.
This is a close-up of the picture of one of the two sleeves. The white mark is a bullet hole. There is one in the other sleeve, too.
This is the letter, written by the doctor who treated Cap BOTH TIMES. Different battles, same doctor.
If you look really closely at the picture above, there is a hand written note on the letter from the doctor from Cap saying,
Blood from wound acc’d (acquired?) at Muscle Shoals, March 25, 1864.
There was so much more. I could write about this forever. There were newspaper clippings everywhere. I could still be there reading.
A huge part of the charm of this was Jay Johnson talking about his family history. He was so clearly interested in it and overwhelmed by it. The museum is a work in progress. I told him he needed to get an intern from a college. He needed a traveling exhibit. He needed a website with a DONATE buttom on it.
He’d just nod and say, “Yep, those are all great ideas. I need to do that.” The man is busy just going through things.
The closed off hotel is stuffed with things he’s only begun to discover. Jay said he found a stash of letters from his great grandfather home, plus other family who were in the war.
Can you imagine the wealth of information those letters contain?
Just one large room was full of the Civil War things he’d found. Only a part of the house is open and the other rooms are full of old furniture and other yet-to-be-discovered things.
This link will take you to the Prospect House facebook page with a nice detailed story of Cap Colehour.
If you’d like to talk to Jay Johnson or help support Prospect House and Civil War Museum, contact Jay at: Prospect House, 403 Lake Ave. N., Battle Lake, MN 56515
We were fishing on a lake near the museum, which is how I ended up there.
I can’t think about my time in that museum with out grinning. Fun, cool, different, fascinating.