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McIntosh County Historical Society


On this date in 1967, the McIntosh County Historical Society was formed. The first ten years were difficult as the founders struggled to gain broad membership. But the tide turned in 1977 when the county received a grant of $143,000 to construct a Heritage Center. The land was donated by the heirs of two original McIntosh County pioneers: John Henry and Nina Farley Wishek. Staying true to the heritage of the county, the building’s design reflects a German-Russian influence. Keeping close to their ties to the land, the exterior stone came from local sources.

Apart from the center, there are also other historical buildings that provide an interactive peep into history. An early rural Lutheran Church was donated by Lenhard Henke. There’s also a sod house, outdoor baking oven, band stand, an original Ashley business building, a small one-room school house and a machinery storage building.

The Center is owned by the county, but managed by the Historical Society. Everyone who works at the center does so purely from their passion for history and preserving their county’s story. This is the main goal of the Heritage Center; to supply a place to store historical artifacts so people can learn about their ancestors and the struggles they faced. Even though it’s located in Ashley, they also collect artifacts from the neighboring communities such as Lehr and Wishek.

The Heritage Center is completely non-profit, and admission is a freewill donation. The upkeep is dependent upon the community; and with center growing its collection, there’s always a need for help. So, if you’re near Ashley and willing to pitch in, stop by McIntosh County Heritage Center.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas