Northfield Historical Society loaned historic rifle

Hayes installing Gun

NHS Executive Director Hayes Scriven installs the .50 caliber Smith Carbine in 2013 when it was on temporary display.

This month the Northfield Historical Society added to its collection via long term loan one of the most important known artifacts from the 1876 robbery attempt by the James-Younger Gang: the rifle that Henry Wheeler used to defend the First National Bank of Northfield. The weapon — a .50 caliber Smith carbine — is on loan from its anonymous new owner and will be on display in the museum in the coming months.

“We have so many artifacts from the James-Younger Gang members, but little that represents the town’s defense of the failed 1876 raid,” says Hayes Scriven, NHS executive director. “Our being able to display this rifle with its rich backstory is remarkable.”

“As a young college student Henry Wheeler put his life on the line to help prevent a bank robbery that would have devastated Northfield residents,” adds the owner. “I’m glad to be able to help keep his legacy alive.”

NHS first learned about the Wheeler collection in 2012 when Dr. James Bailey, a forensic scientist who conducted a study of the skeleton in the NHS collection, was researching the Smith carbine and Henry Wheeler. Earlier this year Scriven made an unsuccessful bid to get a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society that would allow NHS to purchase the rifle. Scriven then reached out to a mutual friend of the new owner and “the rest is history,” quips Scriven.

The current owner purchased the weapon with the intention of letting NHS put it on long-term display. NHS is currently evaluating its exhibit on the failed 1876 raid. “It’s a quality exhibit, but we could make better use of our space,” says Scriven. “In addition, new raid facts and artifacts have emerged over the past few years, and we want to better highlight local responses to the failed raid — something the current exhibit does not do well.”

The Wheeler collection will be the “crown jewel” in the new exhibit that should open sometime next summer. Along with the rifle, visitors will see the Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver that Wheeler carried after the family of Clell Miller threatened his life because Wheeler had shot and killed Miller during the raid. A gold pocket watch the First National Bank presented to Wheeler for his efforts in defending the bank also is on display, along with a recently discovered photo of Wheeler during his time as a student at Carleton College.

Give to the Max Day!

GTMDThe Northfield Historical Society is looking for your help to meet its fundraising goals on Give to the Max Day 2014.  This year, the historical society has secured $2,000 in matching funds!  By making a donation on November 13, you can help us meet this match and end our 2014 fundraising on a high note.

We are also participating in the Northfield Gives at the Grand event from 5:00 -9:00 p.m. at the Grand Event Center.  Come by and give us your donation and be entered to win a gift basket from Northfield Olive Oils and Vinegars.

Donations can be made through the GiveMN.org portal, the NHS website,  by calling the Historical Society, by stopping by the Historical Society or at the Grand Event Center between 5:00-9:00 p.m. on the 13th to make your donation in person.  Unable to participate on November 13th, no problem!  Donations can be scheduled through the GiveMN.org website to go through on Give to the Max Day or you can send in a donation to the Historical Society ahead of time.

For further information, contact the Northfield Historical Society at 507 -645-9268 or view our website at www.northfieldhistory.org.

Minnesota’s Own: Preserving our Grand Homes

Millett PosterDave Silvester will be presenting on the book, Minnesota’s Own: Preserving our Grand Homes, he will speak at the Northfield Historical Society on Thursday, October 30 at 6:30 PM about this new book he will show us pictures of some of Minnesota’s beautiful homes from around the state and tell us stories about their construction, original owners and restorations. This program is cosponsored by the Northfield Historical Society and the Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library.

Popular ‘Cemetery Stories’ program pushes reset button

Cemetery StorieNorthfield Historical Society has decided that the next presentation of its popular Cemetery Stories series will be delayed until sometime in 2015. The NHS board of directors has cited a variety of reasons for the decision, including a shortened organizing period this year due to the timing of the next full moon plus a shrinking volunteer base.

“We love the way our Cemetery Stories program presents history to people of all ages and we want to provide a quality experience for all involved,” says Hayes Scriven, NHS executive director. “But we’re just not in a position to do that this year.”

After running the program in much the same way for nine years, Scriven also wants to comprehensively review it and look for ways to enhance the presentation. “When the event happens next year it will be a better and different experience that will expose history to a wide variety of people,” he says.

In the meantime, the society plans to make videos from previous Cemetery Stories — available for free online here.

2011 Cemetery Stories

Cemetery Stories 2011 from Hayes Scriven on Vimeo.

2010 Cemetery Stories

Cemetery Stories from Hayes Scriven on Vimeo.

The Atlanta Campaign

AtlantaCivil War enthusiast and amateur historian Jim Stark will discuss General Grant’s 1864 Grand Campaign to conquer the south with his talk, “The Atlanta Campaign,” Thursday, September 25, 6:30 p.m. at the Northfield Historical Society. The event is free and open to the public.
Stark, a former president of the Northfield and Rice County historical societies, will discuss General Grant’s 1864 Grand Campaign to conquer the south and how it had come to complete failure within three of his armies departments.  Grant’s own objective, the destruction of General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had bogged down into a siege accompanied by huge losses of personnel.  Northern morale was declining and the likelihood of President Lincoln’s reelection was becoming more unlikely every day.  President Lincoln and the north now looked upon General William T. Sherman for the deliverance and the capture of Atlanta.
Jefferson Davis and the southern command hoped to drag out the war and deny Lincoln the election, and perhaps win at the ballot box what it was unable to win on the battlefield.  Hanging in the balance was the faith of two nations.

What DJJD is about.

Heywood

Joseph Lee Heywood

This Sunday will mark the 138 anniversary of the failed bank raid by the James-Younger Gang. The gang rode into Northfield intent on robbing the First National Bank of Northfield. It was just a bit before 2:00 p.m. when three of the raiders entered the bank. It only lasted seven minutes but those seven minutes have stayed with Northfield forever.

This week Northfield celebrates the Defeat of Jesse James Days (DJJD). The celebration is for the towns people that defeated the James-Younger Gang. People like, J.S. Allen, Henry Wheeler, Elias Stacy, A.R. Manning, Frank Wilcox, Alonzo Bunker and of course Joseph Lee Heywood. It was because of the bravery of these men the gang was defeated and Heywood paid the ultimate price. He refused to open the vault for the gang even after multiple beatings and was killed for protecting Northfield’s future.

It is the extraordinary courage of these ordinary men that we honor this week. DJJD starts tomorrow (September 3th) with a graveside memorial for Joseph Lee Heywood and the other heroes of September 7 in the Northfield Cemetery at noon. It is a great way to start off a fun-filled weekend as it really helps put things in perspective.

NHS Hours during DJJD week!

Raid photoThe Northfield Historical Society will have extend hours during the week of  September 1-7  for Defeat of Jesse James Days.

September 1, Labor Day, 10:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.
September 2, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
September 3, 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.
September 4, 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Johnny Boggs presentation
September 5, 10:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
September 6, 8:00 a.m. -8:00 p.m.
September 7, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Our research library will be closed during this week, if you have a request please us our contact page.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us at 507-645-9268