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McGovern and Humphrey are remembered well at the Viborg museum.
McGovern and Humphrey are remembered well at the Viborg museum.

Museum Politics in Viborg

May 14, 2015

“History is recorded by the victors,” said Winston Churchill.
    “History is made by those who show up,” said Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th century Israeli leader. Combine his quote with Churchill’s and you have the answer to why the wonderful and not-so-little Daneville Heritage Museum in Viborg has such a nice collection of Democratic memorabilia.
    We spent a morning this week in Viborg, working on  a story that will be published in our July/August issue. This is an 800-population boom town in Turner County, one of the more Republican conclaves to be found in East River, South Dakota (not that Republican conclaves are rare by any means in the state). The well-kept little downtown has a hardware store, three restaurants, bank, hospital, grocery store, vintage auto restoration shop, historic movie theater and all the other amenities you might expect. Towns 10 times Viborg's size don’t have all that downtown.
    And it has a wonderful museum that actually has a decent revenue stream. “We joke sometimes that the museum will be here long after the town,” says Rich Skola, who directs the facility. That’s because of the generosity of many local individuals and families, but especially because of Alphie “Toots" Peterson, an avid historian who donated much time and money.
    Her husband, Merle, ran as a Democratic candidate for state legislature in the 1960s when Ralph Herseth and George McGovern were leading a resurgence of the party. She died two years ago, at age 94, leaving the museum some of her assets. She’s perhaps one reason why the Daneville museum has a 1960 poster of the Democratic ticket, with photos of Merle and McGovern and all the other candidates — along with a big poster of McGovern, plus an exhibit of Hubert H. Humphrey and other Democratic memorabilia.
    Somewhere in the museum, there’s an Eisenhower collector’s plate, says Skola. A few visitors have kidded about the space given to Democrats in a Republican county. But nobody really seems to be bothered by the exhibits.
    And it’s not that Turner County voters won’t elect Democrats. Roberta Rasmussen, a local farmer and activist, represented the district in the 1990s. Roberta has also been active with the local museum, and Skola says she may be more responsible for the Democratic paraphernalia than Toots. More recently, grocer Tom Jones was the state senator from Viborg.
    So just show up, as Disraeli said 200 years ago. And save your posters and bumper stickers.

Note — In the spirit of complete transparency, we should note that the writer is a Democratic state senator from nearby Yankton County. That might help to explain his undue fascination with the above subject matter.

Comments

11:21 am - Thu, May 14 2015
Laura said:
Did you happen to catch the Daneville Museum's hours? I've been wanting to visit, but always seem to come to town when they're closed.
12:00 pm - Thu, May 14 2015
Bernie said:
Don't know the exact hours, but they mean it when they say to just stop in the Creamery and they'll be sure it's opened. It's sure worth a stop -- lots of stuff from surrounding little forgotten places like Center Point and Hooker, etc.
04:08 pm - Thu, May 14 2015
Renae Hansen said:
I believe right now they aren't open any set hours, just when the office manager is there working two or three mornings per week, but they encourage folks to call one of the board members if they want to set up a time to visit. They are:

Roberta Rasmussen 326-5094
Palmer Peterson 326-5318
Rosemary Armstrong 766-0035
Richard Skola 766-5675

They are usually open on Danish Days weekend too (third weekend in July) plus you can come have a great time hanging out with us Danes! (Sorry, shameless plus from a Danish Days Committee member!)
09:55 pm - Fri, May 15 2015
John Ronning said:
Fun to see an article about Viborg, especially one mentioning Toots & Merle. Toots worked at the Co-op Creamery where my dad was the manager. Toots & Merle were friends of my parents. One day when I visited the creamery, Toots took me across the street to the Spot Café, and bought me my first ever chocolate soda. Good times and wonderful people!
12:42 pm - Tue, February 16 2016
Jack Konecker said:
Trying to get an email address from someone who works at the Daneville museum.
06:14 am - Wed, February 17 2016
Laura said:
The last I checked, the Daneville Museum doesn't have an email address. I'd try phoning one of the people mentioned in Renae Hansen's comment.

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