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Rare finds at the Hooker County Historical Museum

Pure Nebraska
Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 7:06 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - During a visit to the museum in Mullen, we enjoyed talking with 100-year-old historical society member Frank Harding.

Harding is a local rancher, a life-long Mullen area resident, and he just celebrated his 100th birthday. He’s very proud of the Hooker County Historical Museum, and rightfully so.

“Where the museum is located now was once a hotel,” Harding said. “It was built in 1917 by one of the first county commissioners here. He built this hotel, and it was very popular. It was advertised as being the only hotel between Alliance and Broken Bow that had hot and cold running water in every room. The last few years, the only people that stayed here were cattle buyers, who came here in the fall to visit area ranches. Then, the feed lots came, and the farmers no longer came from eastern Nebraska or Iowa. So, the hotel was abandoned. It was in bad shape, but the historical society bought it. In 1990, we started getting artifacts from people. Most of the artifacts in the building are donated from people who lived right here.”

The museum is designed in a way that each room has a theme.

“We have a western room for example, that has early side saddles and historical things,” Harding said. “We have a music room. In the hallway here, we have the first picture of Mullen with a band coming down the street during a Fourth of July celebration in 1902. In the band was a school teacher. We have the horn he was playing in 1902 in that picture on display here at the museum. We also have a wonderful display of our military veterans. A lot of the first homesteaders were Civil War veterans, of course.”

The military display is made possible by the museum as well as the American Legion Post 109. Harding says it’s important to preserve history at local museums like this one.

“They always say if you don’t remember history, it will repeat itself,” Harding said. “I just think it’s important to know what our ancestors did, how they lived, and how different it was then than it is now.”

When you visit the Hooker County Historical Museum, you’ll get the history of the hotel in a guided tour. You can also see all of the exhibits. The museum doesn’t have set hours, but if you are in town, there are phone numbers on the door of the museum. You can call one of those numbers, and one of the members will answer. They say they’ll be happy to come and give you a look around.

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