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This 1908 Sears auto buggy is on display at the McCallum Museum in Sibley. (RYAN MCGAUGHEY/DAILY GLOBE)

McCallum Museum offers link to Osceola County's history: Janet Stofferan has served as curator since 1996

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SIBLEY, Iowa -- Step inside the McCallum Museum and there's plenty to see -- and there's still more on the way.

Thanks to funding from the Community Grant of Osceola County in 2009, McCallum Museum was able to reprint numerous vintage photographs. The photos are being framed and mounted on a wall for what should eventually be an impressive display.

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"We reproduced 290 original photographs," said Janet Stofferan, curator of McCallum Museum and Brunson Heritage House, located in Sibley's City Park. "We will use a majority of the reprints in new and different frames in specific groupings, such as street scenes of Sibley, business interiors and early homes of Osceola County."

The effort to grow the museum is by no means stopping there, Stofferan added, as a fundraising campaign designed to help purchase archival materials for storage of donations, pay for maintenance costs and create new exhibits is currently ongoing.

A history buff

Working as the museum's curator has been a labor of love for Stofferan, who has now been in her current post for 15 years.

"When I moved into town here, I married Vern Stofferan in 1995," she explained. "I decided that if lived in Sibley, I wanted to do something with history.

"I contacted the Historical Society and started working with Harvey Calsbeek, who was then the museum curator," Stofferan continued. "Then, in 1996, he died unexpectedly, and I stepped into his shoes because of my museum background."

At that time, Stofferan was curator of the Snellman Hsia Collection -- devoted to clothing, textiles, and other forms of material culture -- at South Dakota State University in Brookings. Upon becoming curator of the McCallum, she had the opportunity to take care of and expand a variety of exhibits.

Inside the museum

Literally housed inside the McCallum is one of the first wooden dwellings in Osceola County, the Rogers House.

"The original H.K. Rogers family homestead was first located east of the Sibley golf course, on the Albert Helmers property," Stofferan said. "It was moved into the park in 1929 by Mrs. Bertha Heetland and the Girl Reserves ... they were similar to Girl Scouts."

The McCallum Museum was constructed in 1957 and built to cover the Rogers House, added Stofferran. The museum's dedication took place in May 1957 with Mrs. Beulah McCallum, who provided funding for the project, in attendance.

A panel illustrating the dedication of the McCallum is among one of the new "vertical" displays inside the museum, as is a panel depicting the political life of W.L. Harding, a former Iowa governor who was born on a farm south of Sibley in 1877 and elected governor in 1916 and 1918.

Additional new vertical panels include photographs taken by John van der Linden, who was editor of the Sibley Gazette from 1960-1973.

There's also a variety of Civil War-era memorabilia that Stofferan said she has a special fondness for.

"I was a Civil War re-enactor and I really got into it," she said. "I quit in 2000 because it was getting to be too much."

Among the artifacts from that period on display are weapons and hats (kepis), muskets and bayonets, fivepound lead artillery mini balls, shot pouches and Confederate money. There is also a collection of 140-plus books donated by Judy Fleming in honor of her husband, Mike Fleming, an avid Civil War aficionado. The books are written by a host of famous Civil War authors, Stofferan said.

"We're fixing up a special display because this is the sesquicentennial of the Civil War," she added.

Other highlights in the McCallum are a 1908 Sears auto buggy owned by Al Sharbondy, a prominent local business of that time; a surrey owned by Otto Frey that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century; a 1900s courting buggy with leather seats donated by Kristin Burford that was used by her great-grandfather; old clothing, children's books and military uniforms; and memorabilia from the career of Herman Bell, a past Sibley resident who played Major League Baseball in the 1920s and 1930s. All the materials are donated, Stofferan said.

The most current donations to the museum, Stofferan noted, include:

- Old membership ledgers and secretary's books from Sibley Fire and Rescue.

- A polio machine from Melvin American Legion.

- World War II photographs, certificates and a Japanese flag from the Don Reiley estate, given by Lisa Feldkamp.

The goal of the current membership drive is to not only add new members, but potentially get additional donations as well.

"We're developing other fundraising ideas because the museum is self-sufficient, Stofferan said. "All our money comes from fundraisers, memberships, special donations and grants."

The museum will re-open the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and be open each Sunday through Labor Day weekend. Hours are from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

The museum is also open by appointment. For more information, contact Stofferan at (712) 754-3882.

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Ryan McGaughey
I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.
(507) 376-7320
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