Interns Make Discoveries at Onaga Historical Museum

Dr. Morgan and Chapman interns Janet Adam, Aaron Melby, and Jessica Wheeler spent several hours researching at Onaga Historical Museum on Sunday. Nov. 4. They drove north and east across the wide, vacant prairies of northern Pottawatomie County, through tiny, almost-gone communities like Blaine, Fostoria and Wheaton. Onaga, a late 1870s railway town, has a restored schoolhouse as well as a log cabin on the grounds of the museum. Also nearby is a Union Pacific caboose. Dr. Morgan and Jessica, researching the impact of the railways on Onaga’s development, just had to climb onto the rear platform!



Museum coordinators and volunteers Rheva Boswell and Linda Tessendorf were so helpful to the interns. In addition to opening the museum on a Sunday afternoon for us, they located early maps and atlases, allowed Aaron to search an 1899 bound newspaper, the Onaga Herald, and even went home to fetch some documents and listings. Janet was thrilled to discover a previously unknown poor farm operating near Louisville; only a cemetery remains. Aaron perused the Vienna Township Justice of the Peace Record Book for evidence of bootlegging and found three significant cases! Jessica collected information on the development of Onaga itself, in tandem with two railroads defining its early growth.

Because the local historical societies of our service area hold rich resources for student research, Chapman Center is continually grateful for their cooperation and generosity.  Thank you, Rheva and Linda!

Samples of resources at the Onaga museum with information valuable for intern projects. Dr. Morgan comments, “These compiled sources, created through hours of volunteer work by community members, often contain newspaper accounts, copies of records and letters, and topographical references unavailable anywhere else.”


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