Visit the Museum
The Washington County Historical Association is the caretaker of the county museum. We also are caretakers of two historic properties that are listed on the National Registry.
Our museum features three galleries with different themes, and a library for research.
The Edith Neale Gallery:
This room depicts the history of Washington County from pre-historic times through the mid 1800’s. The gallery is named for Edith Neale (1891-1980), a staunch crusader for the preservation of Washington County history, one of the founders of the Fort Atkinson Foundation, and former director of the museum until 1971.
In this gallery you will find:
- Prehistoric relics
- Mammoth bones
- Kid’s archaeological dig box
- Native American artifacts
- Story of Lewis & Clark’s First Council with the Otoe and Missouria Nations
- Interactive language exhibit, featuring the Otoe language
- Dress up as a soldier or be Captain Clark for the camera
- Fort Atkinson artifacts
Gallery of Pioneer History:
This room features the story of pioneers and the towns that formed Washington County in the middle 1800’s.
It includes displays and exhibits on the following:
- early fur trading posts
- Fort Atkinson and the Mormon migration
- The Homestead Act and Native People
- Early land claiming and settlement
- Development of early Washington County towns
- Development of agriculture and businesses
- Prohibition and Women’s Suffrage
- Early schools
- hands-on “fun facts” about agriculture
- many other glimpses into our past
This room houses the former Fort Calhoun State Bank original lobby from the 1920’s and features:
- Wildcat money display
- Historic Firearms of Washington County
- History of county sheriffs
- Hands-on kids bank teller area
- touchable 1800’s artifacts
If you have roots in Washington County and want to research your family history, we can help. We have a wealth of information on towns and families dating back to the 1850’s and 1860’s. Call Faith at the museum to assist you as you research your history.
- Plat Maps/Maps
- School Records
- Family Histories
- Marriage Records
- Census Records
- Cemetery Records
- Computer Access to Ancestry.com
- Quit Claim deeds
- Real-estate records
- Legal Records
- Writings of Edith Neale
- Writings of William H. “Grandpa” Woods
Pioneer biographies are available on some of Washington County’s early pioneers. Click here to see available information.
The Blair Historic Preservation Alliance (BHPA) serves to advocate for the protection and appreciation of the historic properties of Blair, NE. This organization has information and photos of many of the historic homes and buildings in Blair. Their website can be viewed by clicking HERE. http://www.blairhistory.com/
The Washington County Genealogical Society, located at the Blair Library and Technology Center, contains additional genealogical data on the people of Washington County. Their website can be viewed by clicking HERE. http://libraries.ne.gov/blair/genealogy/
For more information on Danish history, contact the Danish American Archives and Library by clicking HERE. http://danishamericanarchive.com/
Our library is available for individuals and groups to use. Copies of photographs and other records can be made for a nominal fee. Community organizations may use our library free of charge by contacting us. Our library has rolling conference tables for multiple configurations, and can comfortably seat 15-20 people for research or lectures. We have computer and audio visual materials available for use.
The Frahm House
The historic Frahm House was designed and built by the architectural firm of Fisher & Lawrie of Omaha, designers of several prominent Omaha buildings including the Bemis Building, the Fairbanks-Morse Building, Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Storz Mansion.
This beautiful Colonial Revival Home was built in 1905 as a wedding gift by Alfred (Fred) Frahm for his bride, Sarah (Sade) Beales. Mr. Frahm purchased six blocks of land in 1903 from his brother-in-law for $850, and then built his home and general store on the main street of Fort Calhoun in 1905. The house is located on a hillside which provides a bird’s eye view of the town and the Missouri River. The family lived in this home until their only child, Catharine, passed away and the home was bequeathed to the Washington County Historical Association in 1994. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is one of the few homes in Nebraska built in the early 20th century that does not have a structural addition. Most of the items in the home are original to the family.
The Frahm House is open the first Saturday of the summer months, and for special events throughout the year. Group tours are available upon request. This lovely home is located 2 blocks behind the museum at 220 S. 15th St. Fort Calhoun.
The Frahm House is available for rental. It can be used for small business gatherings, social functions, engagement parties, luncheons and teas. Photo opportunities on the porch and inside the home are available throughout the year. Food can be brought in, or we can assist you with catering. Please contact us for more information about your event and if the Frahm House fits in with your event needs.
Fontanelle Township Hall
Founded in 1854, Fontanelle is one of the state’s oldest towns. It is named after Logan Fontanelle, the half-Indian land owner who gave colonists the right to settle on the property. It was home to the first advanced educational institution west of the Missouri River, chartered in 1855 under the name of Nebraska University. It was eventually reorganized as Doane College. Fontanelle was originally the county seat of Dodge County, and became part of Washington County when in 1860 the Legislature redefined the boundaries of both counties, splitting them by the Elkhorn River. It was also under consideration at one time to be the state capital.
The Fontanelle Township Hall, one of the oldest structures in one of Nebraska’s oldest towns, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Constructed in 1855-65, the building was cited by the National Register as “a well-preserved example of a somewhat uncommon building type in Nebraska; the township meeting hall.” The one-room brick meeting hall was built by H. J. Carpenter for $563 and was the site where voters met to make decisions on local matters.
The Fontanelle Township Hall was donated to the Washington County Historical Association and is available for public viewing from the outside.