The Boxholm, Iowa Museum

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, Boxholm's Farmers State Bank - photo by John Gaps IIIputting 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.

6 thoughts on “The Boxholm, Iowa Museum

  1. Tonight I watched a television program on swedish SVT named “Det hände här” (It happend here). The episode story was about finding and retelling history events that was set in the town of Boxholm, Sweden. Apperantly, an important part of the swedish peasant resistance were located in Boxholm in the 1500s. History about the scrap of Rommels desert army is also discussed. However, I find it very interesting to find out that another Boxholm exist in Iowa. Look up and search for the show. (swedish only im afraid. /// Sincerely

  2. I haven’t found an answer to my question anywhere; perhaps you can help me! I have a collection of silhouette/reverse paintings and acquired one recently which is obviously very old. I’m only trying to locate its approximate age. On the front it says: “Season’s Greetings. BUICK AUTO COMPANY. Boxholm, Iowa.” Two children flying a kite; and there’s a thermometer. On the back is a sticker saying “Manufactured by Advertising Novelty Co., Newton, Iowa.” It’s VERY old and not in very good shape, but I’d like an approximation of its age. Thanks for any help you can give me.
    Sally Todd

  3. Hello, My name is Gregory Mark Olson. My great grandfather Gustav Olson arrived in Soux Falls South Dakota in 1876. I learned just this week that his father Nils, and his mother Karolina and six of their children arrived in Grant Township in 1878 from Sweden. The children that came along were Olof, Kerstin, Marta (Martha), Anna Kajsa and Lars. Nils and Karolina had a child in Boxholm named Oscar.

    According to the white pages, there are numerous Olson’s in the Boxholm area. My family must be related to several Olson’s there.

    If you can help me find my long lost family, please contact me. I live in Rockville Maryland, and have an extended family of Olson’s around the country.

    Thank you for any help that you can provide.

  4. I would love to get in contact with David Peterson. I wonder if he has a sister named Jane Peterson. I lived in Boxholm in the early 1950s and Jane Peterson was my best friend. I have not seen Jane in 50 years and would like to connect with her if possible. We lived down the street from the Peterson family on the east edge of town. My grandparents were Oren and Ruby Jacobson and we lived on the second floor of their house. My mother, Madelon Jacobson Hartzell, grew up in and graduated from Boxholm high school. My father, Gordon Hartzell, had a barber shop at the back of the Jones Grocery Store in 1954 and 1955. I also had a great aunt, Lillian Johnson who lived in Boxholm as well as an uncle and aunt, Gayle and Arlene Jacobson.

  5. Torbjörn,

    I called the gentleman who runs the museum this morning, and says that yes, the museum still operates – by appointment only. If someone wants to visit, he needs a day or two advance notice.

    Address: 311 2nd St., Boxholm, IA

    Directions: I-35 exit 111. Drive west on US Hwy 30 for 28 miles, then turn right (north) on US Hwy 169 for 10 miles. Downtown, which is small, in the old bank.

    Hours: Appointment only; must call first. (Call to verify)

    Phone: 515-846-6413

    Admission: Free.

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