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Archive for Saturday, September 22, 2007

Old windmill a windfall for new museum

Donor offers artifact for ‘freedom light’ beacon base

September 22, 2007

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An old windmill hidden among trees on a Douglas County farm may be reborn as the base for a "freedom light" beacon at the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum.

Plans call for the windmill to be moved to the museum at Clinton Lake's Bloomington Park and for a sculpture to be made to go with it, museum director Martha Parker said. The windmill light and sculpture will be a great addition for a proposed 4,800-square-foot museum, she said.

"We're all very excited," Parker said, referring to the Clinton Historical Society and other museum supporters. "It's such a neat old windmill."

The windmill, which is at least 50 years old, is on property owned by Tensie Oldfather southwest of Lawrence. She rents the land to Randy Carlson, who will help clear trees around the windmill so it can be moved, Parker said. Oldfather, who along with her late husband, Charlie, once lived near Clinton, is donating the windmill.

Moreover, the land was originally owned by S.M. Shepherd, an abolitionist who Parker thinks also may have been involved with the Underground Railroad, which led slaves to freedom during the Civil War. The museum's focus is on Wakarusa Valley history and its connections to the Underground Railroad.

"This all just really ties in well," Parker said.

The windmill, which is about 35 feet tall, might be moved as soon as next week, Parker said. It will be placed in an open space just to the north of the current museum building.

Meanwhile, the museum will have another of its annual fundraisers at

6 p.m. today. Whole-hog barbecue will be served along with potluck side dishes, desserts, lemonade and tea. A donation of $10 is suggested. Country and bluegrass bands will perform. If you attend, bring a lawn chair, Parker said.

If the weather is bad, the event will be at E4 Barn, 330 North 1250 Road.

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