Remembering World War I
Teaching history is important for members of the Dodge County Historical Society, especially the history that had a big impact on their county - including World War I.
They’re honoring this era, as 2017 marks 100 years since America entered the “War to End All Wars.”
The Mantorville-based Society has accumulated a World War I exhibit, featuring machine guns, and uniforms and gear worn by soldiers from the county.
Uniforms were donated by soldiers’ descendants in the area, while the machine guns were donated by Dodge Center American Legion Post 384.
The guns are one of the display’s main attractions, DCHS volunteer Warren Schwenke said.
“We haven’t been able to trace the individual histories of those guns since too much time has passed, but we’re assuming that they were brought back by World War I veterans from Dodge Center,” he said.
The Dodge Center Public Library received an $8,000 grant from the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation, based in Rochester, for a gun case.
The library, which has its own World War I exhibit, is allowing the DCHS to piggyback on the grant.
The exhibit itself is funded by the Historical Society.
Mary Ann Bucher, former DCHS board member and current volunteer, said the World War I exhibit drew large crowds for its grand opening during Mantorville’s Stagecoach Days, June 24-25.
She said the DCHS had about 100 visitors on Saturday and 150 more on Sunday, including many children.
Schwenke said he was also impressed by the number of children interested in the exhibit.
“There’s an assumption that kids aren’t interested in history. Well, that’s not true,” he said. “Younger people are convincing their parents to come in and look at the exhibit. We nd them coming in here all the time.”
Schwenke said all visitors, including the kids, have enjoyed seeing the World War I artifacts.
“People are very impressed with the downstairs exhibit,” he said.
People coming to see the World War I exhibit are also impressed with the remodeling at the DCHS.
“If you’d ever been in the building prior to our remodeling down there, you’d nd quite a large contrast,” Schwenke said. “The basement was almost a storage area previously and not very inviting, but now it’s light and airy, so it’s a big improvement over what was there before.”