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Tracy House Museum displays added, updated for Ocheyedan’s 125th celebration

OCHEYEDAN, Iowa -- Children on a tour of the Tracy House Museum in Ocheyedan Wednesday afternoon marveled over pieces of the past, from old photographs and displays inside the buildings, to the old cistern pump outside that produced for them a st...

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OCHEYEDAN, Iowa -- Children on a tour of the Tracy House Museum in Ocheyedan Wednesday afternoon marveled over pieces of the past, from old photographs and displays inside the buildings, to the old cistern pump outside that produced for them a steady stream of water.

Volunteers of the Ocheyedan Historical Society have spent the past several months adding more photographs and artifacts to the three-building display in advance of the community’s 125th anniversary celebration planned Aug.12-14. The museum will be open from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 13 and 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 14 for people to view the displays and share their memories of days gone by.

Connie Schuster, one of the society’s volunteers, said work began last winter inside the agricultural building on the museum grounds as men constructed walls for displaying Ocheyedan High School’s senior class composites.

“We accumulated the class composites when they tore down the high school building,” Schuster said. “We needed a place to put them.”

While there are senior class photos ranging from the class of 1908 to the class of 1985 -- the last senior class at Ocheyedan High School -- Schuster said the society is still seeking some of the class photos that were missing.

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“For some we took pictures of annuals to make our own (class photos),” she added.

In addition to class composites, volunteers requested photos that help to tell Ocheyedan’s past. Current and former residents of this small Osceola County community came through, offering numerous photos of businesses that once lined the community’s main street.

“We (downloaded) a lot from the 125th Facebook page that people posted photos to,” Schuster said.

Many of the photos either had to be printed or copied, restored and framed for display, a project funded with a grant award from the Osceola Community Foundation. While many of the pictures now hang inside the agricultural building at the Tracy House Museum, there is also a display on the walls inside the temperature-controlled resource room. There, people can view a photo of the Ocheyedan House, the town’s first hotel, built in 1885.

Schuster said the society wanted to emphasize the old photos for the 125th celebration because they had been piled up over the years.

“We had a lot of good helpers (create the displays),” she added.

Visitors to the Tracy House Museum can also take a step back in time with a walk through the actual Tracy House, built in 1894 near the old Congregational Church and moved to its present site at the intersection of Porter and Main streets in 1902.

Schuster described Ocheyedan as a bustling community -- a busy place with lots of businesses. That remains true today as this community of nearly 500 residents is still home to a bank, grocery store, grain elevator, library, post office, insurance agency, beauty shop, gas station, bar/restaurant, funeral home, construction businesses, an active senior center and its own newspaper. Ocheyedan also boasts four churches.

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On Wednesday, workers were pouring a concrete base for display of the old school bell, believed to date back to the early 1900s. Barb Block, another historical society member, said there are plans to add more museum displays in the future.

The community is expecting a large gathering for its 125th anniversary celebration in August, with numerous events planned, including fireworks over the Ocheyedan Mound on Aug. 12; parade, wine and arts festival, quilt show, tractor show and pull, truck pull and street dance on Saturday; and an antique tractor ride on Sunday.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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