Inga (Mrs. Bert) Geving:

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 and Jerome Myhrer:

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.

Bonnie Hallett:

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.

Caryl Bugge:

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.

Andrew Filer:

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.

Avis and Bill Kennel:

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.

Vincent Waggoner:

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.

Site information:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

!! Thief River Falls Farmers Market !!
We have been getting quite a few emails, calls, and messages about when we are opening. So glad you miss us! Here are the details. Opening day will be Saturday, June 18th 9 am- noon. Tuesday markets will start Tuesday, June 21st 3:30-6 pm. All markets will be held downtown at Floyd B. Olson park (the one with the gazebo). Final market day (weather permitting) will be Saturday, Oct. 1. If you could please share this, it would really help us get the word out. Thanks for your help and see you soon!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reply to MJ comment below
I am sorry I haven't gotten the obits and cemeteries back up yet, I have been working on the other pages, and trying to fix the data with them. There are over 150,000 records, the original site did not have any controls and there were a lot of duplicates, and mis-entered data. I still have about 200 hours of work to finish correcting things. Once I get the data corrected and standardized I will finish the development of the display pages, and search engine. I will also create an entry system for the library to continue their support. I'm sorry for any inconvenience in this matter, but I want the new site to be as accurate as possible.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Threshing bee fundraiser will be Tuesday, August 25th from 6 to 8 pm, lots of activities, come out and support Pioneer Village!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

REMEMBER: The museum only has a few more weeks left of the season, Stop by and explore the local history.
If you look at the membership page you will see that it is full of text.
We have the text for the buildings page done as well. I intend to start putting together pictures for both of these pages today.
The membership page will also have an entry system allowing you to join the Society. At this time you will still need to send a check.
Though the society and museum do get some funding, most of the funds come from people like you.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Today we are launching a new home page, this page will remain while the rest of the site is in progress.
It is my intentions to get Membership, Buildings and Contact pages done over the next week.
As days go by I will update you here with messages of new pages.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I finally got Ajax working, if you click on a date in the calendar on the Home page you will see the page no longer refreshes.
This is so you stay where you are on the page instead of having to scroll back down after clicking on an item

Friday, July 31, 2015

Tuesday August 4th, 2015.
Pioneer Village is hosting the annual Nite to Unite.
Check the calendar on the Home page for time and contact information.

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Others' Comments:

Thursday, November 5, 2015
Grace Clough
Hi there, I'm Grace Clough and I am currently researching the past presidents of the MN School Boards Association. If you have any information or pictures of Dr. A. E. Jackson (served 1948-1949) that relate to the school board association, please let me know and we can hopefully figure out a way to transfer them electronically. I am a full time student and interning for the MN School Boards Association, so I do not have a lot of extra time to travel to different counties and conduct this research, so any help is much appreciated. Thank you!

Saturday, October 31, 2015
Jim Strandlie
Orlin Ostby, Gatzke, the fellow who followed the Ox Cart Trail from Canada to St. Paul would like to place some of the memorabilia of the event in a museum. Would you be interested?? He will be contacted you.

Friday, September 11, 2015
Paul M
Will this new website eventually have all the research resources the old site had? Image search, city directories, phone books, obituaries, etc...

Saturday, August 29, 2015
M J Myrom
Is it no longer possible to search for obituaries and burial info on this site? When I click on those options, there is nothing available.

Monday, August 17, 2015
Pchs Staff
Threshing bee fundraiser will be Tuesday, August 25th from 6 to 8 pm, lots of activities, come out and support Pioneer Village!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Donna Myhrer
Looking GOOD!

Sunday, August 9, 2015
Vince Waggoner
This is the first Comment to display. You can check back for future displays of other comments as time goes on.