The Boxholm, Iowa museum is principally a one-man show. Thanks to David Peterson, the area’s history is being preserved. The Boone County town itself is nearly gone, having only 215 people residing there at the point when the 2000 census was taken. Following is an excerpt from an article about Peterson, and his museum.
For 18 years, Peterson has been restoring the 1910 Farmer’s State Bank on the largely vacant main street, putting all this stuff in the building. One day, in a couple more years, the Boxholm Museum will be done.
“It’s been my life’s hobby,” said Peterson, a trim, gray-haired man wearing spectacles and a pressed button-down shirt. “Sure, people think I’m crazy. I’m the exception, not the rule.”
Though not college educated, Peterson is a meticulous historian. He was given the large photos of graduating classes from the school that closed in 1985, but no names came with many of the pictures. So he went door to door, asking old women to look at the photos for identifications, which now hang on the museum’s walls.
People call him to donate their family heirlooms, and he climbs into their attics to inspect. “The newest thing Don Brandt has given me is 100 years old,” Peterson said.
He has two more buildings full of Boxholm history stored away and has reached the point of refusing valuable antiques, such 125-year-old rocking chairs from the town’s namesake in Sweden, because he has no more room.
“I’m funny with what I’ll take,” he said.
He has obituaries for every Boxholm resident to die there and an old birth announcement with a 75-year-old cigar taped to it. Bill Crouch, who still lives in town, said he didn’t even know Peterson had his birth announcement.
Nearly 75 percent is Peterson’s personal collection, gathered at auctions or part of his own family history, such as a 1951 prom corsage from one of his sisters…
Read the full article by Mike Kilen in the January 21, 2009 Des Moines Register.