f you could see Nebraska through my eyes, you might observe a village green nestled between the train depot and gazebo in Stuhr Museum’s 1890s Railroad Town.
Seated in the gazebo, a sheet of unfolded waxed paper rests in my lap holding a half-eaten jam sandwich. I take a moment to feel the refreshing breeze on my face and hear the little birds chattering in the tree above me. As a friend hurries past on her errand delivering a pitcher of cool water to the millinery shop, she waves and calls out that she will join me shortly. There are children laughing and soon I see them racing down the gravel street playing hoops and sticks. I hear footsteps on the nearby boardwalk and a screen door slapping shut as visitors to the museum enter the Mercantile. Before long, the clanging hammer of the blacksmith drifts over the hum of the town’s daily life. A hint of smoke from the wood stove fire in the Stolley farmhouse is in the air, and I hope Grandma B is baking cookiesfor the LHAs today.
I am a LHA, a Living History Apprentice—a trained, costumed youth volunteer at Stuhr. When I am assigned my duties for the day, my character becomes a town resident.
I meet visitors from all over the world and share life in the 1890s with them. More importantly, they share their stories with me! I’ve grown up learning pioneer history from my supervisors and mentors, and while portraying a family member in town, I became a part of the Stuhr family.
Living out history on a daily basis shows me how the past and present are woven together. It gives me a wider perspective of the earlier historical events that shaped an 1890s Nebraska railroad town, and that the events of those town-building years shaped the events I’m living today.
My name is Elizabeth Kirschner and this is Stuhr Museum through my eyes.