Dakota Buttes Museum Comes Alive

The Dakota Buttes Museum literally came alive last Wednesday for Hettinger’s first ever Night at the Museum event. Students from the third, fourth, and fifth grade classes presented the Hettinger community with an unforgettable local history experience.

Frank Turner

The night started with pioneer music and dance. The students sang songs from the early 1900’s. According to third grade teacher Brooke Schneider, the entire night was based on the pioneer years of Hettinger.
“The songs were all from the Hettinger era in 1907. It was all based on everything that’s happened in the past century,” said Schneider.
Once the singing and dancing finished, the students, clad in historical pioneer costumes, ran to different museum displays and froze into place. Each student pretended to be a wax figurine of someone from Hettinger’s history with a bucket at their feet.
To see a wax figure come alive, all one had to do was drop a coin into the bucket. The kids would then spring up and recite a history lesson about someone or something from Hettinger’s long history.
Schneider explained that all the stories and histories the kids recited were based on local people, events, or items.
“We got the information from the Hettinger Centennial, local history resources, and from local historians from the museum,” she said.
The kids even interviewed local people and researched old obituaries to uncover local history.
“We talked to Betty Svihovec and Loren Luckow and they got us a bunch of information and contacts. Then, using the contacts they gave us, we started calling people to get interviews set up.”
Schneider explained that the students practiced and prepared their history speeches for months.
“We started the project right after Christmas. First, we visited booths in the museum to figure out what the kids would be able to tell about and get information on,” she explained. “Once we got all our information, we started the writing portion about a month ago.”
In the last weeks of the project, the students put together period costumes to complete their stories.
“That was the parents’ doing. They definitely stepped up for a lot of that,” said Schneider. “It was a lot of the Clothes Closet.”
At the event, one student, Samantha Salazar, sat at an old organ and pretended to be Edward Honeyman. When someone dropped a coin in her bucket, this is what she said:
“Howdy, I was just playing with my lovely daughter Holly. Hold on, let’s start way back when I was just a little boy! On November 21, of 1913, I was blessed with a lovin’ family. Woah there cowboy, let’s slow our roll. I almost forgot the most important part; my name. I’m Edward Honeyman, but everyone calls me Ed. You can too!
Like most kids back then I was a happy kind child who was always smiling. Some people say I’m like that now too. When I grew up, I first started off by refurbishing clocks. Then I moved onto music machines. Also I was very good friends with Pappy Stokes. While he tuned piano’s, I refurbished them.
You may be asking yourself, ‘how did I get into refurbishing things?’ Well I really just needed a hobby. Actually, lots of you listening may have grandfather clocks or pianos or organs.
People may call me consider me a lucky ducky because I own one of the two barrel organs in the whole world. That’s crazy! Did you know that prisoner from Montana came to fix an organ. The person built the pieces out of wood in prison and they released him just to put the pieces on. Can you believe it?
In all of the years I’ve lived, I’ve refurbished 200 – 500 music machines. I would’ve done more but I wasn’t given enough time. Overall, Edward lived a great life and I could never fill his shoes. This presentation doesn’t do him enough justice. It would’ve been great if he could be watching.”

Throughout the museum, each student had their own story to tell. Every kid was thrilled to share their history with anyone willing to listen.
Fourth grade teacher Joey Erickson had the original idea to put together a wax museum. Erickson said that it was really her daughter that convinced her to go through with the event.
“Years ago, I used to do wax museum projects,” explained Erickson. “Actually my daughter, Bethany Erickson, was the one who said, ‘Hey mom, you have to do this. Bring back the museum.’”
Erickson decided to go forward with the event as a fundraiser for the Hettinger Education Foundation. The foundation is a non-profit entity with an endowment fund to support education in Hettinger.
“The foundation is a base to help support scholarships, new teachers, and student activities. It’s for things that do not have enough funding and need a little boost,” she said.
Overall, the fundraiser was a great success. Erickson estimated the wax museum raised roughly $2,000 toward the Hettinger Education Foundation.
Those who either missed the event or are sad that it is over may have another chance to attend the event in the future. Erickson said that both she and the school administration are excited to continue doing the wax museum in the future.
“We’ve talked about it and it might be an every other year event. Our off years we will do the research and the following year the wax museum,” she said.