Clinton County Historical Society Collections
Gen. James W. Denver
Civil War general, territorial governor and potential presidential candidate, James W. Denver personified "manifest destiny." A room of the museum contains General Denver's personal library and artifacts from his military and governmental careers.
Born in 1817 near Winchester, Virginia, he and his family moved west to a farm near Wilmington in 1831. After receiving a degree from the Cincinnati Law School, he moved to Platte City, Mo., and opened a law office with a partner.
Always in motion, Denver recruited a volunteer infantry in the war against Mexico and served under Gen. Winfield Scott. He led a party overland to California during the Forty-niner gold rush. He served in the California State Senate, was appointed secretary of state from California and elected to Congress from California in 1855.
That same year he married Catherine Rombach, daughter of Matthew Rombach of Wilmington where the couple made their home.
Involved in national politics, Denver served as commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1857, governor of the Kansas Territory during the era of "Bleeding Kansas," and in the Civil War became brigadier general of all federal troops in Kansas.
In the later years of Denver's career, he organized a Washington, D.C., law firm representing Indians against the U.S. government for treaty violations.
Eli Harvey, artist and sculptor
Eli Harvey, internationally known artist and sculptor, was born Sept. 23, 1860, near Springfield Friends Meeting in Clinton County, and died Feb. 10, 1957, at his home and studio in Alhambra, Calif. His ashes are buried at the Harvey family lot in Springfield Friends Cemetery.
Before his death, Harvey gave many of his paintings and bronzes to the historical society.
The collection of paintings and sculpture shown in the gallery at Rombach Place are by Harvey including a bronze copy of a bull elk, symbol of the Order of Elks, commissioned in 1904.
Specializing in the sculpture of animals, Harvey's credits include Brown University's mascot, "Brown bear," the J.C. Penney bull for mail order merchant James C. Penney, and decorations for the lion house at the New York Zoological Park.
Carl Moon, photographer of the Southwest
The second floor hallway makes a gallery for the photographs of Southwest Indians taken by Carl Moon in the early 1900s. Originally from Wilmington, Moon was among the first to photograph American Indians in their natural habitat.
Drawn to the Southwest by his abiding interest in Indian culture and an intense desire to preserve what he saw as a vanishing way of life, he spent many years traveling and taking pictures among the various tribes, primarily in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
His wife, Grace Purdie Moon, once remarked, "Mr. Moon and I like to write about Indians and picture them because I think way down in our hearts, we almost wish we were Indians ourselves."
The Textile Room
The Textile Room includes Quaker (the Society of Friends) quilts and coverlets. Quakers played an early and prominent role in the settlement of Clinton County.
Quaker influence remains today with over a half dozen active Quaker meetings in Clinton County. In 1870, a Society of Friends purchased the struggling Franklin College and established the Quaker college Wilmington College.
Of particular interest in the Textile Room is the abolitionist quilt, circa 1842, made by abolitionist Quakers in Clinton County and Newport, Indiana. Measuring about six feet square, each of its 16 blocks is signed by its Quaker woman maker.
While the quilt's exact cause for creation remains unknown, scholar Ricky Clark, in the craft magazine "Piecework" (July/August 1995), suggests it was made by the women to strengthen bonds between the two Friends meetings during the abolition separation of 1843, "when Quakers were so divided over the question of abolition that members left or were excluded from the particular Quaker meetings to which they belong."
Artifacts, clothing, furnishings
In the Artifact room are 19th and early 20th century artifacts such as medical and surgical equipment, hand tools, kitchen utensils, an Edison cylinder phonograph, and Adena Indian relics.
The Society has a large textile collection and periodically features different eras of fashion.