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April 2017

April 2017

April 2017

2017 News Releases

Stephanie Steinke, left, with volunteer Pat Bye.

Steinke named museum's
new executive director

December 2017

Stephanie Steinke has been named executive director of the Prairie Village Museum in Rugby. Steinke will assume her duties on Dec. 22.

Steinke joined the museum staff in April 2016. In her grant-funded position as collections manager, Steinke guided the museum’s transition from paper to electronic collections records and supervised development of collections storage.

In 2017 the museum board retained Steinke to continue her collections work, which included creating an exhibit featuring a ceremonial dress worn by Queen Victoria, coordinating the museum’s World War I programming, and curating a WWI exhibit scheduled to open in May 2018.

“There is a lot going on at the Prairie Village Museum right now and it’s an exciting time to be involved. I’m looking forward to the job and working with all of the great volunteers and seeing where we can go together,” Steinke said.

Steinke’s educational background is strongly grounded in the humanities and she holds a master’s degree in Archeology and a bachelor of arts degree in Classics and Religion. She has also spent 10 years as a field archaeologist working with artifacts and students. Since returning home to Rugby six years ago she’s worked as a tax preparer for A.H. Steinke & Co. and will continue in that capacity in addition to serving as the museum’s executive director. Steinke and her husband, Brooks Houim, were married in the church on the museum grounds in 2015.

“Stephanie Steinke will bring leadership, creativity, and a deep sense of commitment to the job with her experience and educational background.  Departing director Cathy Jelsing will leave a lasting legacy of exciting happenings,” said museum board president Dennis Miller.

Steinke replaces Cathy Jelsing, who served seven years as the museum’s executive director. Jelsing has accepted the position of Foundation Coordinator for the Good Samaritan Health Services Foundation in Rugby.

Prairie Village Museum is owned and operated by the Geographical Center Historical Society. Founded in 1965, the museum is made up of 20 historic structures and six exhibition halls filled with tens of thousands of artifacts related to local and regional history.


For more information, visit the museum website at

WWI pilots, planes topic of Blackaby talk Nov. 12

Community WWI book discussion Jan. 16

Glenn Blackaby

November 2017

“WWI Pilots & their Planes” will be the topic of a free talk by Glenn Blackaby, director of Minot’s Dakota Territory Air Museum at 2 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 12, at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby.


“The airplane was in its infancy leading up to WWI,” Blackaby said, “and military and political leaders saw flying as an amusing pastime with little military value.” But on the battlefields of WWI, the airplane became an invaluable reconnaissance tool and gradually the airplane’s role was expanded leading to the development of fighters, bombers, seaplanes and more. 


“Pilots became knights of the air,” Blackaby said. “Fliers like Rickenbacker, Guynemer, Garros, Boelcke and Richthofen became household names and were exploited to boost civilian morale.”


Blackaby put his lifelong interest in aviation to work as Dakota Territory Air Museum’s first full-time curator/director in 2007. Founded in 1986, the air museum tells the story of the area’s aviation history through displays of dozens of military and civilian aircraft from the early 1900s to the present.


Blackaby’s presentation on the changing role of planes and pilots in WWI is one in a series of events being presented Prairie Village Museum, supported in part by a World War I and America grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and other organizations. Donuts and coffee will be served following the program by Friends of Prairie Village Museum.


Community book discussion

On Jan. 16 the museum will host its second WWI and America Community Book Discussion. Moderators Ron Montonye and Stephanie Steinke will lead a discussion of Christopher Clark’s “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe went to War in 1914.” The discussion will start at 7 p.m. in the museum’s Old Main Gallery. Refreshments will be served.


Discussion participants are responsible for securing their own copies of the book, which is available in hardback, paperback, Kindle and audio book formats. Montonye is a Vietnam Era veteran and Steinke is curating “From Ploughboys to Doughboys: WWI in the Heart of America,” an exhibit scheduled to open at the museum in May 2018.

For more information, call 701-776-6414.

Dr. Gordon Iseminger

Museum hosting talk on

Germans from Russia and WWI

October 2017

North Dakota German-Russians and World War I will be the topic of a free talk by University of North Dakota history professor emeritus Dr. Gordon Iseminger at 2 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22, at Prairie Village Museum, Rugby.


Iseminger’s presentation is part of series of events planned in conjunction with Prairie Village Museum exhibit “From Ploughboys to Doughboys: WWI in the Heart of America.” Curated by collections manager Stephanie Steinke, the exhibit opens May 1, 2018.


North Dakota was reluctant to have the United States enter the conflict when war broke out in Europe in 1914. Whether it was because one-fifth of the state's population were German immigrants or not, many North Dakotans were isolationists. But when the United States declared war on Germany, the state rallied. More than 28,000 North Dakotans served and 474 were killed in battle.


In his presentation, Iseminger will focus on how German-Russian immigrants in McIntosh County (Ashley, Wishek and Zeeland, N.D.) responded to and engaged in WWI. In an article titled “Are we Germans, or Russians, or Americans?” Iseminger tells how McIntosh County German-Russians not only provided men and women for military service …. “They economized, collected scrap iron, contributed to the Army YMCA Fund and to the Red Cross, and purchased War Savings Stamps and Liberty Bonds.


“All the while, they refused to get caught up in the war hysteria that was gripping much of the rest of the nation. McIntosh County children contracted German measles, as they had before 1917, and not the ‘liberty’ strain of the disease that so sapped peoples' energies elsewhere in the country. Nor did county residents eat ‘liberty cabbage.’”


The museum’s WWI programming will continue at 2 p.m., Nov. 12, with a presentation on the “Changing Roles of WWI Pilots and Their Planes” by Glenn Blackaby, director of the Dakota Territory Air Museum, Minot.


The WWI lectures are free and open to the public. The programming is supported in part by a World War I and America grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and other organizations.

Prairie Talks focuses on N.D. Drug Court, F5 Project:
Programs designed to help non-violent offenders

Leah Viste

Adam Martin

September 2017

Prairie Talks second talk of the year, “North Dakota Drug Court & F5 Project: Helping Offenders Hit the Reset Button,” will be presented at 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 17 at Prairie Village Museum. Cass County Assistant State’s Attorney Leah Viste will discuss how North Dakota Drug Courts are helping non-violent drug offenders and F5 Project founder Adam Martin will share ways the organization is supporting Cass County offenders as they transition out of incarceration.


North Dakota was one of the first states to adopt the drug court model, which is a supervised, treatment oriented program that works with non-violent participants who struggle with substance abuse and related problems. F5 Project Founder Adam Martin, who worked to overcome addiction and a criminal record before launching F5, believes the root causes of committing crime are not always dealt with while in confinement.


Prairie Talks is supported in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council, which is focusing its programming this year on rethinking America’s criminal justice system. The Humanities Council has posed the question: “Although America is home to less than 5% of the world's total population, we boast almost 25% of the world's prison population. How did we get here?”


Prairie Talks is free and open to the public. Attendees are invited to tour Prairie Village Museum at no cost. Friends of the Museum co-sponsor the Talks and donations are welcome to help defray expenses.


Since it was founded in 2012, Prairie Talks has hosted 11 events, attracting more than 500 people and a range of co-sponsoring organizations from the community. Speakers have included journalists, authors, human rights advocates, Native American leaders, public health advocates, and artists

Adult, kids’ art workshops offered

Terry Jelsing is conducting an adult art workshop on plein air or outdoor painting and drawing from 6 to 8 p.m. July 24-28 and Aug. 9. Participants will paint or draw at two locations near Rugby. The first session starts at 6 p.m. July 24 at Prairie Village Museum.


Kids’ Art Workshops are being presented by Tanner Lind will run from July 10 - 14. Children ages 7-9 will learn monotype printing from 10 a.m. to Noon. Children ages 10 – 12 will use a variety of media, including the museum’s hand-crank letterpress, to create books from 1 to 3 p.m.


The adult workshop is intended for students ages 16 and older with some drawing experience. Documentation by photography also is encouraged. Some works may be finished onsite while others may be started onsite and finished in the studio. The second floor of the museum’s Silva School will be open for use by workshop participants from July 24 through the workshop’s exhibit Aug. 12, a feature of the museum’s annual Village Fair.


Required materials for the adult workshop include pastels; acrylic or oil paint; gesso; canvas board, Masonite, or other support; variety of brushes; paper towels and rags; containers for water; and a sketchbook for notes/ documentation.


Materials for the children’s workshop are included in the registration fee, which is $25 for museum members and $35 for non-members.


Jelsing, who makes his home in Rugby, has presented his summer adult art workshop at Prairie Village Museum for the past several years. A lifelong artist, arts administrator and educator, Jelsing teaches art at Dakota College at Bottineau.


Lind is a senior visual arts student at North Dakota State University where he’s completed advanced studies in print making. This is the third time he’s taught the museum’s Kids’ Art Workshops.


For more information or to register for classes, contact the museum 701-776-6414.

July 2017

Rugby's Village Fair expanded
Pre-Party features Band, Beer, Brisket

August 2017

Rugby’s Prairie Village Museum is kicking off its annual celebration with a Saturday Night Pre-Party featuring craft beer tasting, barbecued ribs and brisket, and music by bluegrass/rock/folk band Wild Hands. The all-ages pre-party starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12. The museum’s 32nd annual Village Fair opens at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, featuring pioneer demonstrations, live music and traditional fair food.


Saturday night attendees will have a chance to learn about and sample a variety of craft brews made by Minot’s Souris River Brewing Co., dine on Henry’s 90-Wt Barbecued Ribs & Brisket, and enjoy “original North Dakota music” by Wild Hands band members Max Patzner, Joe Andrus, Nick Holwegner and friends.


Featured on the Prairie Public Television series “Prairie Musicians,” Wild Hands performs nationally and is releasing a new three-part record series “Growing Like a Weed.” Wild Hands will return to the Village Fair Sunday, appearing in rotation with traditional Dixieland band Dakota Dixie of Minot and Metis fiddler Jim LaRocque of Belcourt.


“Music sets the tone of the Village Fair,” says museum executive director Cathy Jelsing. “Our goal is to provide a musical flavor of days-gone-by that contemporary audiences will enjoy.”


Jelsing expects another big draw at this year’s Village Fair will be new acquisitions to the museum’s collection being unveiled a couple days prior to the fair. “I can’t announce yet what the acquisitions are or how they came to us, but I think people will be excited to see the items and learn the story behind them.” The artifacts will be on display in the museum’s Old Main gallery.


Also on display in Old Main gallery will be a traveling exhibit on World War I supported by a World War I and America grant. In conjunction with the exhibit, collections manger Stephanie Steinke is providing fair attendees with free scanning and electronic copies of personal historic documents and photos. She is especially interested in items related to WWI and other military conflicts.


Fairgoers strolling the boardwalk will find a preacher preaching in the church (9:15 a.m.), cooks baking in the cook car, a seamstress sewing in the dress shop, blacksmiths hammering in the blacksmith shop, kids tending animals by the livery barn, and Arlene Johnson and her miniature horses giving cart rides on the Village green.


A harmonica “choir,” made up of the more than 30 kids who participated in the museum’s “Traders & Trappers Rendezvous” will perform “Oh Suzanna.” They’ll also dance “The Red River Jig” and share a few words about what they learned at this year’s Museum Camp.


Tanner Lind will be demonstrating printing in the village print shop. Julia Petrovic of Slavic Heritage Farm will have goat’s milk soaps and salves for sale in the summer kitchen. Gerald Harmel will be handing out nails to all challengers at the Hamerschlagen stumps. And visitors can view artwork by adult and children’s art workshop participants on the second floor of Silva School.


Food service begins at 8:30 a.m. with KZZJ-KKWZ’s annual pancake breakfast. Beginning at noon, Friends of Prairie Village Museum will be serving pulled pork sandwiches, freshly grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and Polish sausage, German potato salad and Calico Baked Beans. Visitors will find a variety of other treats throughout the Village including Juneberry ice cream, root beer floats, homemade pie, popcorn and sarsaparilla.


A two-day Village Fair pass is $10 for adults/seniors. Admission for one day is $7 for adults; $6 for seniors, veterans and college students; $3 for kids 7-17; and free for kids 6 and under. Geographical Center Historical Society members and active-duty military attend for free. For the complete fair schedule visit


The Village Fair is sponsored in part by the North Dakota Council on the Arts, Pierce County Endowment Fund, Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, and Northside Lounge, Rugby.

Native American Erased Histories topic of next Prairie Talks

July 2017

Melissa Olson and Lynn Braveheart, daughters of Native American women adopted by white families as part of the federal Indian Adoption Project, will present a Prairie Talks program, “Erased Histories,” at 2 p.m., Sunday, July 23, at Prairie Village Museum.


In place between 1958-1967, Olson and Braveheart say the Indian Adoption Project isn’t well known, but a tragic period of history with a traumatic legacy that still affects people today.


The Indian Adoption Project became U.S. policy during the phasing out of Indian boarding schools, first established in the mid-1800s with the intent to “kill the Indian and save the man,” in the words of Capt. Richard Pratt, founder of the flagship Indian boarding school.


Because the government “still didn’t trust Indian families to raise Indian children,” Olson and Braveheart say the Native American Adoption Project was a “new, more subtle plan” to assimilate Indians by removing children from their families.


Both women work as Indian Child Welfare Act Guardians ad Litem for the 4th Judicial District of Hennepin County in Minneapolis advocating for Indian children in ICWA Child Welfare Court proceedings. In the audio documentary “Stolen Childhoods,” which Braveheart co-wrote and Olson co-produced, they share stories of how their mothers were adopted out of their Ojibwe and Oglala Lakota tribes by white families under the Indian Adoption Project.


The 2017 Prairie Talks events are supported in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council. “Stolen Childhoods,” can be heard at:

Volunteer Paula Jelsing dishes rhubarb ice cream.

Museum Comes to Life

during Rhubarb Festival

June 2017

Prairie Village Museum’s annual Rhubarb Festival is all about celebrating rhubarb. And this year, it’s about celebrating history too. Rhubarb lovers will find everything rhubarb, plus costumed villagers in the museum’s village square, from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 25, in Rugby.


“We’ve held Museum Comes Alive and the Rhubarb Festival as separate events for the past few years,” said festival chair Kathy Blessum. “Each event has been successful, but by combining the two we think we’re creating a truly entertaining and memorable afternoon.”

Rhubarb will be served, rain or shine, in the museum’s Sandven Exhibition Hall. A $5 donation will purchase six tastes of rhubarb-inspired desserts, cakes, pies, cookies, breads, ice cream and more.


Costumed volunteers will be scattered throughout the village, working in the blacksmith shop, teaching in Juniata Township School, demonstrating in the Summer Kitchen, and chatting up visitors in the creamery, saloon, and more.


In the Penn Depot, visitors will step back into the future as museum collections manager Stephanie Steinke uses modern technology to scan letters, photographs and other personal historical documents for anyone who brings them to the festival.


“We are especially looking for war-related documents we could use for research or display in our upcoming WWI exhibit,” Steinke said. “The scanning is free. We’ll provide everyone with digital copies of their documents on CDs, share information on preserving the originals, and – if we receive permission – place digital copies in the museum’s archives.”


All proceeds from the Museum Comes Alive Rhubarb Festival will go to support the museum’s WWI exhibit, scheduled to open May 2018. Friends of the Museum will sell hamburgers, hot dogs and chips from noon until gone. Coffee comes free with the rhubarb.

The museum entrance fee during the festival is $5 for adults. Admission is free for active-duty military families, kids age 17 and under, and for Geographical Center Historical Society members. The event is sponsored by Friends of the Museum and the Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.


For more information on the Museum Comes Alive Rhubarb Festival or the free historical document scanning, visit or call 701-776-6414.

This was 2011. Come see what's changed.

Museum offering free peek
at Old Main renovations

June 2017

Prairie Village Museum is offering free admission to all visitors Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11, to commemorate completion of major renovations to its main entrance building.

“Prairie Village Museum’s Old Main renovation project marks the start of a new era for the museum,” said executive director Cathy Jelsing. “This will be the first year museum offices and Old Main gallery will be open year round. And it’s first time the Rugby Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ and Convention Bureau has had its offices on the museum grounds. We think that’s something to celebrate.”

Celebration hours are 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Everyone will be admitted free and coffee and cookies will be served. Regular admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $3 for kids ages 7 to 17, and $18 for a family (2 adults and kids). “The Hawk Museum’s annual Antique Farm Show is the same weekend,” Jelsing said, “so we hope museum fans will stop in on their way to or from that event.”


The Geographical Center Historical Society board and Friends of Prairie Village Museum are hosting an evening reception for project contractors, Rugby Chamber and CVB board members, city and county leaders. “We want to thank the contractors for their work, some of which they charged for and some of which they generously donated,” Jelsing said. “In-kind contributions of labor and materials by Tim Bartsch of Bartsch Electric and Ben Kuhnhenn of Daryl’s Plumbing and Heating alone saved the historical society thousands of dollars.”


Visitors are commenting on how nice the reception area looks and Jelsing said the spaciousness is also making it easier to handle large groups. About 600 children toured Prairie Village Museum in May and nearly half of them – 246 students and 25 chaperones from five schools – arrived one morning between 9 a.m. and noon. “The more expansive reception is allowing us to handle crowds we would have had trouble managing in the past,” Jelsing said.


The Old Main renovation project also has given collections manager Stephanie Steinke and volunteers a place to work on collections out of the public eye and provided the executive director with a private office for the first time in the museum’s 52-year history.


The next phase of the project, external renovations to the museum front façade, will start this summer and continue in 2018. Other construction projects in the village this year include completion of the Great Northern caboose, most recently supported by a $9,000 grant from the BNSF Foundation and two $1,500 grants from the Rugby Jaycees.


For more information call 701-776-6414 or email

Storytellers sharing ‘War Stories’ at museum's Spring Kick-Off

April 2017

Prairie Village Museum kicks off its 52nd season Sunday, April 30, at the Rugby Eagles Club with a ham dinner served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a program featuring five local storytellers at 1:15 p.m.

Featured “War Stories” storytellers will be Duane Baillie, Hartley Hageness, Josh Siegler and Danielle Skjelver, all of Rugby, and Orlan Hall, Minot. Travis Gerjets, cofounder of the Minot Story Hour, will act as emcee.


This is the second storytelling event hosted by the museum. The first, “The Good Old, Bad Old Days,” was presented at the museum’s 2016 Spring Kick-Off. “The storytellers were so well received,” says museum executive director Cathy Jelsing, “we decide to repeat the format and bring Travis back again as our storytelling coach and program host.”


Inspired by the 100th anniversary of United States’ involvement in World War I, over the next two years Prairie Village Museum’s programming will include a lecture series, a major museum exhibit, community book discussion, and a film series all related to WWI. Coordinated by museum collections manager Stephanie Steinke, these activities are being supported in part by an $1,800 Library for America “World War I and America” grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


The “War Stories” program on April 30 will span several military conflicts. Hageness, owner of Hartley’s Buses, will share tales of the Great War as told to him by his father. Retired pharmacist Duane Baillie will tell how his life was impacted by service in both WWII and the Korean War. Hall, who grew up near Upham, N.D., will base his story on his experiences as a combat infantryman in Vietnam. Skjelver – a history scholar, mother of three and wife of a retired Marine veteran – will relate stories of military family life. And Pierce County Sheriff Siegler will share his experiences as a Marine during the Gulf War.


Freewill donations for the meal and program will support the museum’s Boost the Caboose campaign. Local event sponsors include Ramsey National Bank, Thrivent Financial and the Rugby Convention & Visitors’ Bureau. The museum’s “WWI and America” partner organizations include American Legion Post 23, Heart of America Library and the Lyric Theater, Rugby, and Dakota Territory Air Museum, Minot.


Individuals interested in renewing or purchasing Geographical Center Historical Society memberships may do so at the Kick-Off. Memberships include season passes to Prairie Village Museum and all museum events.


For more information, call 701-681-9342 or email The grounds open for school tours May 2 and for touring by the public May 15.

Julie Skjol

Election April 13th at Dakota Farms
Sjkol, Lake, Osse nominated to board

April 2017

Julie Skjol, guidance counselor at Rugby High School; Michelle Lake, recently retired from Merchants Bank; and Rugby Postmaster Terry Osse have been nominated to serve on the Geographical Center Historical Society board of directors. The election of board members will take place Thursday, April 13, in Dakota Farms restaurant meeting room, Rugby.


The society’s annual meeting will begin with dinner (on your own) at 6 p.m. The business meeting will start at 6:45 p.m. Attendees will get a sneak preview of the museum’s Old Main renovation project following the meeting.

Board members up for reelection include Roger Sitter, Mildred Rothgarn and Amanda Loughman. In addition to the election of board members, the agenda includes a review of the 2016 season, an update on the Old Main renovation project, highlights of the coming season, and a vote on proposed bylaws changes.


The meeting is open to the public, but only historical society members are eligible to vote. Memberships, which include season passes to the museum, will be available for purchase at Dakota Farms prior to the meeting.


In addition to those up for reelection, the board includes Linda Lysne, Dennis Miller, Kathy Blessum, Dr. Hubert Seiler, David Bednarz, and Paula Jelsing. Pat Bye is retiring from the board.


The historical society’s annual Spring Kick-Off Dinner and Program, “War Stories,” will be held Sunday, April 30, at the Eagles. The museum opens for school tours May 1 and to the general public May 15.

Everybunny's happy!

Rugby Jaycees hosting Egg Hunt

April 2017

It's that time is year .... time for the Annual Jaycees Easter Egg Hunt! For the third year the event will be held in the village square at Prairie Village Museum.


Registration will begin at 10 a.m. Enter the museum grounds via the west side gate.

All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Limited number of eggs per participant (to be determined at hunt). Hunters will be divided into three age groups: 0-3, 4-7 and 8-12

Please dress children appropriately for weather and for potentially soggy conditions on the grounds.

For more information visit Jaycees Facebook page.

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