By Anna Jauhola
Lake Bronson has been a hotbed of activity this summer with celebrations and visitors. Most recently, last week a crew of four from Prairie Public in Fargo visited the Kittson County Museum to film for two stories that will appear this fall.
“How exciting! It’s very cool that we’re getting this opportunity,” said Cindy Adams, museum director. “It’s good press. And I’ve had such good comments and people have been really good to us this summer.”
Adams sat down with Matt Olien, a Prairie Public producer, at the museum for an interview. The overall story on the museum itself will air on Prairie Mosaic and Prairie Pulse. Olien said the station has been covering regional museums through funds from the Clean Water Legacy Act.
Adams shared how the museum was built in 1973 and the people’s vote to place it in Lake Bronson. Museum board Clifford Bouvette, who owned the Kittson County Enterprise, really thought the museum should be in Hallock. He printed the tickets for people to purchase as a vote as to where to build the museum.
“But he made a mistake,” Adams said. “When he printed the tickets, he didn’t put numbers.”
Board member Victor Johnson, who owned the Lake Bronson Budget, realized this and had sold all his tickets, so he decided to print more tickets. When it came time to count the votes, Bouvette was very surprised by the huge number of votes from the Lake Bronson area to build the museum there, close to historic Lake Bronson State Park.
“I was told this by Victor Johnson himself,” Adams said.
She also highlighted the 50th anniversary celebration at the beginning of August, stating the blues rock guitarist, Little Bobby, and Maury Finney – a Kittson County native and grammy-winning saxophonist – are her most favorite recent memory.
“So we had this blues concert with about 200 people here. It was just a lot of fun – a really good night. And we celebrated all weekend,” Adams said.
The Prairie Public crew shot extra footage inside the museum, machine shed and transportation shed, as well as of all the outbuildings.
“There’s more here than I thought,” Olien said with a smile. “I knew from looking on the internet, it was really nice looking from the outside. This is a lot more than other towns the size of Lake Bronson.”
The crew doubled up, as so many media outlets do, and interviewed Ed Jerome, Hallock, about his great-grandfather Andre Jerome’s artifacts in the museum. This segment will air on Prairie Public’s Artifact Spotlight. Andre was Kittson County’s first settler and of Metis descent. The Metis were children of French-Canadian fur traders and indigenous women.
The crew set up Jerome at a table displaying artifacts near the trapper’s cabin at the front of the museum. Jerome discussed a pipe his great-grandfather made and now is part of the museum’s collection, and also a replica sash worn by fur traders and oxcart travelers.
“The sash was used by the voyageurs on their trips from Montreal,” Jerome said. “When they were carrying heavy loads over portages, (the sashes) would help prevent hernias. So it became a part of their dress. In most of these pictures, (Andre) wears one.”
Jerome is also known for the oxcart on display in the museum’s transportation building. He built it in honor of his great-grandfather back in the 1980s. He said it took about 100 hours using modern tools. The oxcart was a main mode of transportation for fur trappers and used to haul furs from Winnipeg to St. Paul.
“We’re proud of our ancestors,” Jerome said. “They opened up the country to trade. A lot of the Red River Valley was opened up because of the farming they did, and the land produced an abundance. The first visitors came, they saw how effective it could be, and opened the area for settlement.”
Olien said he and his team will be editing both of these stories in September, but didn’t have an exact date for when the pieces will air.
If you don’t catch the spots when they air on television, both will also be on Prairie Public’s YouTube channel.
By Anna Jauhola