Though the official opening is still a few months away, a busy day in Dearborn on Saturday, Dec. 1 ended with a soft opening of the North Platte Historical Museum and Cultural Center.
A museum has been in the planning stages for the past three years and started to become a reality last year when the board got a building on Main Street donated for three years.
The headliner for the event was Lula Durham, Dearborn’s oldest citizen, who is 98 and will turn 99 on Jan. 14.
A longtime teacher at the North Platte School District, Durham was presented with a plaque from Nigel Adkins, one of the board members for the museum. Durham still lives in the house she was born in and was a graduate of Dearborn High School. After retirement, Durham became involved in the Platte County Historical Society and the Ben Ferrel Platte County Museum.
But she wanted a way to preserve the history in Dearborn and she finally got her wish.
After the ceremony for her, Durham had a chance to meet and talk with the more than 75 visitors that attended.
Adkins worked with Durham at the school district and knew how special of a teacher she was to the students.
“I saw students that didn’t have a real good life and had no encouragement, they were just done,” Adkins said. “I said ‘no, go talk to Lu.’ I always admired how she handled students and worked with them. I saw her encourage those with no self esteem and work with them and pull them out. Some even became teachers.”
Earlier in the day, Christmas in Dearborn at the community center and Cookies with Santa were held at the North Platte Fire Protection District building.
The museum featured a train track signifying the train history in northern Platte County in the towns of Edgerton, Dearborn and New Market.
“It takes a while to get people interested in history, but once they get involved there is a connection with almost everyone,” said board member Steve Goodlet, who teaches at West Platte. “Whether you move in or have ancestry, there is a commonplace. Knowing that history and driving through and you see a building, it is more than a building, it has history.”
There are also old newspapers clippings, photos and a doctor bag used by Dr. Silas Durham, Lula Durham’s dad.
“There is something unique about those old photos, it is so simple to take one now, we take it like a grain of salt,” Goodlet said.
New Market is the oldest of the three communities, while Edgerton started in 1817 and Dearborn in 1882 – which came after a dispute of a railroad.
“Where the train stops, a town was born,” Goodlet said. “There is a lot to that.”
Adkins noted the idea of a museum came to her in the middle of the night and she talked with Durham. They wanted to preserve the history in the three towns, though there were some ‘naysayers’ who didn’t think the museum would get off the ground. Trips to the board of aldermen meetings in Dearborn proved fruitless in securing funds, but donations helped get the museum finally going in the right direction.
So far there are 50 members and local real estate agent Patty Farr – who grew up in Camden Point – told Adkins of five more possible members.
To donate to the museum mail a check to P.O. Box 185, Dearborn, Mo., 64439.