Mystery at the Museum

Last month, Melody Lager with the Heartland Museum hinted that a special “treasure” owned by the Carpenter family early in the 20th century was returning to the area and would reside at the museum. Now, the museum is almost ready to reveal the possibly one-of-a-kind item that belonged to Susan Carpenter.

In 1923, Susan died at the age of 55 when her family’s car stalled on railroad tracks in Webster City and was struck by the train. Her husband, daughter, and one granddaughter survived the crash.

J.B. passed away in 1939, and his son Howard (Joseph Howard Carpenter) moved the family from the home farm, to another farm near Woolstock, and then to Rowan. With him moved the special “treasure,” which Susan’s granddaughter Betty loved. Though it deteriorated through the years, Betty and her husband, Lowell Hill, eventually took it with them to their home near Urbanan, Illinois, and restored it.

The treasure is now close to 117 years old, though the exact date of its creation is a mystery, as is what happened to the company that made it, when exactly the Carpenters bought it, and how they chose such a unique piece.


To see the treasure firsthand, come to the Heartland Museum on December 2. For the full story, see the November 23 edition of the Monitor.