Director/Curator of the Pioneer Village Museum from its inception in 1971 until her retirement in 1990. Inga was the driving force behind getting the Village started in the first place. While much of her “story” is told elsewhere on this website, her day-to-day contributions were also truly amazing. She treated the Village much as she would have done her own home and spent countless hours of loving care in tending the buildings, displays, and gardens. A source of great pride to Inga was when she would lead a tour of the Village twice each afternoon when it was open. Inga was not only instrumental in persuading local authorities to sell the land for the “Village” to the Society for one dollar, but then spent much energy in finding the buildings, many of which would have been destroyed without her intervention, and seeking the cooperation and funding to get them moved onto the Village grounds. Inga was assisted in many of her efforts by several dedicated board members, who were also avid members of her Garden Club.
Donna was hired by the Pennington County Historical Society in January, 1991, just after Inga Geving had announced her retirement. For the next three years, while Donna was the director, the season for the Village was from May 15 to September 30. Donna wrote several grant applications for building supplies and paint and things of that nature and was successful in getting the things needed to do restorations on several of the buildings, most notably the work on the interior of the Hamre House. With the help of about a dozen young people in the Summer Youth Employment project at the Inter-County Community Council and many local volunteers, much work in the area of re-organizing the buildings and the displays in them was done. Donna’s husband, Jerome, a native of Thief River Falls, who had studied Carpentry at the Area Vocational Technical Institute here, was instrumental in helping to do repairs on the buildings of the Village and directing the restoration work of the young people. Because of Donna’s “other job”, as Community Editor of the Thief River Falls Times, the museum began to receive more media attention under her leadership, as well.
It was during this time that a substantial grant from Ralph Engelstad of Las Vegas and formerly of Thief River Falls, was received and the original work of construction of the Engelstad Building was accomplished. Shortly after Donna’s resignation from her position here, she and Jerome began the project of indexing all 52 cemeteries in Pennington and Red Lake Counties and the obituaries in Pennington, Marshall, and Red Lake Counties. These indexes, which took about five years to complete up to the year 2000, may now be found on the Pennington County Historical Society website and are regularly updated by the capable staff of the Thief River Falls Public Library. Donna has also, since that time, served on the Pennington County Historical Society board of directors, beginning in 2011 and particularly enjoys her position there as the Society’s secretary.
Director/Curator of the Museum from 1994 through the end of the season in 1997. Bonnie brought a new flourish of activity and music to the Village, with a strong event calendar that has helped to make the Village more popular and well-known than it had previously been. Her first involvement with the Society was in the late 1980’s, when she volunteered to type up the articles for the second Pennington County Historical book. Much of the material for that book was submitted in handwritten form and Bonnie spent many hours getting it into shape for the publisher. She served on the board of directors for the Pennington County Historical Society for the years that Donna was director, and then, after Donna’s resignation, she was hired to serve as director, which she then did for the next four summers. Bonnie was a Special Education teacher during the school year and, because of her tight schedule, the “season” for the museum was then shortened to Memorial Day to Labor Day. Bonnie’s musical talent and gift for recruiting volunteers was much in evidence and, under her leadership, the Village became much better known as an events center for the community.
Director/Curator of the Museum from 1998 until her retirement in 2011. A native of Pennington County, Caryl Bugge, began her activities as a volunteer in 1997, while Bonnie was the director, after Caryl’s retirement as a mathematics teacher in the Twin Cities. She put in countless hours, organizing exhibits, creating computer entries of the museum’s collections, and scanning documents, books and images so they could be indexed and displayed. Without her dedication and personal drive, the depth of purpose and vast expanse of erudition of this current website, would not have been possible.
Caryl also put together a good many fund raising events, submitted many grant applications for the society as a whole, not to pay herself, but to increase awareness of the Historical Society and the museum. After a long period of intense and difficult labor to bring the museum into the new century and endow it with many of the features that are still relied upon today for record-keeping and collections management, in fact a total of about 14 years, Caryl retired at the end of the 2011 season.
When Caryl solicited the help of her good friend, Andrew Filer, a photographer and computer programmer, he agreed to take on the arduous task of sorting through the thousands and thousands of records she had created, developed indexes and relied solely on what is known in the computer industry as Freeware to bring a website to life. Wiktel, Andrew’s employer at the time, then agreed to provide the hosting services at no cost. Andy spent a great deal of time and effort to build up the website and provide a home for what one staff person from the Minnesota State Historical Society called “one of the best historical society websites in the entire state”.
Without the knowledge and dedication of Caryl and Andrew, the new website would not be a reality, the information would not exist in this format, and the only place to see much of the material being displayed on the site would be if one knew where to look for it physically at Pioneer Village or the Library.
When Andrew moved to the West Coast for a new job, he still maintained his leadership of the cyber-presence of the Society, at great personal cost to himself, and the results of his accomplishment have been greatly appreciated by the community, even if his name is not well-known in this endeavor.
Co-Directors/Curators of the Museum from 2011 to the Present. Avis and Bill’s involvement at the Pioneer Village Museum began several years before their taking on the responsibilities of its management. Bill was named Maintenence Manager and Avis was Special Events Coordinator in 2008, under Caryl’s leadership of the Museum. When Caryl retired in 2011, they were asked by the Board of Directors to take on the Co-Directorship of the facility and have served the community ably since that time. Their attention to detail and work in training the summer staff has been outstanding and, during the many and varied community events held on the premises, their presence has been a major asset. Their quiet good-natured approach has led the Village to the point that the “best kept secret of Pennington County” isn’t as much of a secret as it had previously been.
Well, along comes our new webmaster, a person knowledgeable in the electronic technologies of today. Although Vince was hired by the Board of Directors only to update the old site, he quickly realized that the old site needed more then just updates. It needed a facelift, by someone that could take all this data, reorganize it into standards that fit the technologies of today and offer some new and exciting features for people to enjoy.
To the right is a blog. For now it will be contain information dealing with the new pages and data as it is added to the site. Later the Vince hopes to use it for updates for things going on with the Historic Society.
It is hard to believe that the Peder Engelstad Pioneer Village Museum has been serving the County and its residents and guests for over 40 years now. We can only hope that, with the good fortune of the past, the Pennington County Historical Society will be blessed with equally knowledgeable and hard-working staff in its future and will continue to provide entertainment and education for generations to come.