Dear Editor Lori:
Over it’s many years of history, people in Lusk & Niobrara Co. have let many historical items slip away to be buried in the “dump” behind the big hill north of the cemetery or sold to out-of-towners or maybe shipped by rail to far off smelters (sometimes for a good cause such as WWII). Most likely that was the fate of the school bell from the top of the Grade School & the figure of Lady Justice from atop the Court House. Many things were saved though, as the Museum will show. The key here is that there has to be someone willing to give up the treasure and someone else on the Museum side must be willing to accept it and commit themselves & others to hours, days or even months of work to get the item into it’s proper place.
I’d like to relate a little story now of recent events that, hopefully, have preserved an artifact that will be forever housed where history buffs can see and touch it and maybe even get a little “gong” out of it. It is, I truly Believe, the bell from the belfry of the Baptist Church. If so, it would have most likely been one of the first large bells (maybe the first) to come to the Town. My belief is based on the fact that no one seems to know what happened to that bell after it was removed during a Church renovation in 19?? And also the fact that, as a young boy, with a cohort, came to be very close & personal with that bell on several occasions – nearly always on a Halloween evening. I got reacquainted with that bell within the past year or so as it had come to share a home with RUBY BROWN just east of Lusk along the highway. I consider Ruby a dear friend and as she showed me the bell one day saying that she and her late husband Harry had come into possession of it in a business deal some years ago and that she had promised Harry that she would take care of it until her dying day. She was unaware of it’s possible origin. I told her my thoughts about where it might have come from and that most certainly it should stay in Lusk and perhaps even go to the Museum someday.. She said that travelers had actually stopped in and asked if perhaps it was for sale. She was very hesitant about it being moved anywhere as her promise to Harry was foremost on her mind. With Ruby’s permission I let the Museum folks know of the bell and also Ruby’s feelings on the matter. To shorten a longer story, the old bell is now at the Museum due to the graciousness and generosity of Ruby and I’m sure with the blessing of her daughter Debra. Wally and others from the Museum must have done an outstanding job of convincing Ruby that they also would “guard that bell with their lives”!! They now have the difficult job of finding out all they can about the bell and also making some sort of display for it that will do justice to it.
I know they would love to hear from anyone who might know anything about it. The only thing I know for sure, at this point, is that we owe Ruby, Debra, Wally and other Museum folks a big debt of gratitude for what they have done. I wish good luck to all of them in the work yet to come. And, to Ruby – I will “square-up with you later.
Sincerely – to all