Preserving the past

Fundraising efforts continue at Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop in Haverhill operated from 1883-1940, and has been preserved as a historic site. Edel’s descendants, the Schrader family, has pledged up to $9,145 in matching donations, for the second year in a row. The money raised will help to catalogue and preserve the shop’s 4,486 artifacts.

HAVERHILL — Cataloging and preserving the 4,486 artifacts housed inside the Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop is large task, but the State Historical Society and Edel’s descendants (the Schrader family) have accepted the challenge.

In 2016, these groups launched a matching gift campaign to raise money for the site’s care and upkeep. This year, the campaign continues. A sum of $9,145 was raised in 2016 (with a goal of $10,000).

“With the money we raise this year, we will be able to move forward with our projects,” said Jennifer Bancescu, state historic sites manager.

Those projects include doing a more thorough cataloging of the site’s artifacts, including photographing all the items, writing descriptions, and making the information available online. In addition, aged paper documents need to be preserved.

“We’ve removed paper documents from the site, and hopefully, we will be able to put replicas in their place, while keeping the originals safe,” Bancescu explained.

Matthew Edel established his shop in 1883 after coming to Iowa from Stuttgart, Germany. The Edel family donated the shop to the State Historical Society of Iowa in 1986, and the Historical Society of Marshall County manages it.

“It’s a slice of history in Marshall County, with an interest beyond the folks locally,” said Michael Morain, communications manager at the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. “It’s a real treasure trove, and tells the story of early Iowa life.”

Bancescu said they are also interested in using some of the funds to put together a grant program to cover the cost of bringing youth out to the blacksmith shop.

“Students are a demographic we’d really like to see come out and do some hands-on activities,” she said. “While some do come out, [a grant program] would make that easier.”

The public may make tax-deductible donations to the Iowa Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the State Historical Society of Iowa. All donations (up to $9,145) received by Dec. 20 will be matched by the Schrader/Edel family.

The blacksmith shop is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, noon to 4 p.m. Free admission. Group tours are welcome by contacting the Historical Society of Marshall County at: 641-752-6664.

The Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop is one of eight historic sites overseen by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. More information is available at: iowaculture.gov or 515-281-5111.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com