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The Museum and
The Clay County Historical Society
Sponsors of "OLD TRUSTY"
As an organization dedicated to "saving our yesterdays for tomorrow", the CLAY COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (CCHS) was initiated in 1972 to draw together those interested in preserving Clay County's history. We collect, preserve, interpret, and demonstrate artifacts of social ahd historical importance relating specifically to Clay County.
In 1979 plans were set into motion for the building of a historical museum in which to exhibit and protect the county's artifacts and archival materials. The dream of building a fine museum was at last realized and on May 25, 1980 the Clay County Museum opened its doors to the public. The museum is located on the site of the original KMMJ radio station in Clay Center, Nebraska at 316 W. Glenvil St.
Besides offering a number of rotating exhibits, the museum hosts a Quilt Show and the "Old Trusty Antique Engine and Collectors Show" on the weekend following Labor Day.
On the first Sunday in December a Candlelight Christmas is also hosted by the CCHS.
CCHS annually conducts a Narrated Bus Tour of Navy Amunition Depot (located in both Adams and Clay County's)
The Society's publication, Historical News, explores people, places and events in Clay County's history.
In addition to the museum is the nearby Heritage Park - a quarter block outdoor exhibit of agricultural equipment from the 1880s to the 1940s. A rural one-room schoolhouse and a railroad caboose are included in this exhibit.
The Old Trusty Ag Hall is located across the street from Heritage Park. It is a large exhibits building housing antique tractors, steam and stationary engines, buggies, cars, trucks, fire equipment and blacksmith shop equipment and more. It is also home to "Big Allis", an antique Allis-Chalmers Corliss type stationary steam engine with a 14 foot diameter flywheel. "Big Allis" powered the electical system at the Ingleside State Hospital in nearby Hastings, NE.
The Clay County Historical Society also maintains and conducts tours of
St. Martin's (Loucky) Catholic Church, near Deweese, Nebraska.
Listed in: THE NATIONAL REGISTRY OF HISTORICAL PLACE.
The original parishioners of St. Martin's Church came to this part of Clay County in the 1880's from Moravia, a part of Austria-Hungary at the time of Czar Franz Joseph. They came from the villages of upper and lower Loucky, thus naming the community where they settled "Loucky" meaning meadows.
The first Masses were held in sod houses and dugouts with a Czech priest coming once or twice a year from Iowa to have Holy Mass and serve the Sacraments. In 1888 a priest from St. Stephen's near Lawrence, NE made occasional visits. In the early 1890's a priest from Milligan, NE would come every 3 months. By the latter half of the 1890's, a German priest from st. Stephen's who spoke fairly good Czech came once a month on a Saturday. He would drive his horse and buggy 12 miles to Loucky, where he had Holy Mass and other services including instructions for the children in a public school house, District 27 Blue River School, which sat just east of the present church site. Only the foundation of the school remains today.
With a congregation of more than 100 parishoners a larger church was needed and construction began in the fall of 1907. On December 23, 1907, the main structure was completed up to the plate, when a strong wind blew everything down. Construction began again in the spring of 1908 and was finished in the fall of that year with labor donated by the men of the parish. It is believed that the first Holy Mass was said in the church on Christmas Day 1908. About 40 families, all of Czech nationality, started the congregatin, donated to the building fund and furnished the interior of the church. The Mass was always said in the Czech language until the 1940's when the English Gospel was read and an occasional English sermon was given.
On January 6, 1909, on the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Wisemen's Day, five men went from farm to farm in subzero weather to collect money to buy a church bell. When they entered a home, the men would sing a song about the Three Wise Men and then ask for a donation to the bell fund. Each and every one they contacted donated money according to his means. Before they left the house they wrote with white chalk the letters K-M-B for Kaspar, Melichar and Baltazar. The collection that day yielded more than the price of the bell. The cost of the bell was $105. It was cast in solid bronze by Stuckstede and Brothers of St. Louis MO. Names of the Three Wise Men, the two drivers and the resident priest are engraved on the bell.
St. Martin's became a mission of the Assumption Church and remained so for 62 years. Due to the dwindling number of parishioners, St. Martin's Church was closed after Sunday Mass on July 1, 1973.
On August 7, 1973 lightning struck the cross on the tall steeple, starting a fire which destroyed the steeple and bell tower. The lightning followed the wiring across the length of the roof and blew boards out of the gable on the opposite end of the church. The double plate under the bell and the interior walls of embossed tin saved the church sanctuary from the fire. The bell was salvaged but had cracked from the cold water used to fight the fire. At the request of the parishioners, the St. Martin's Church was deeded to the Clay County Historical Society for restoration and historical preservation in November 1973. Restoration of the bell tower was the first project to be undertaken, copying the original tower as closely as possible. A stainless steel cross was placed at the top of the steeple.
On March 23, 1977, the new 20' steeple, weighing 3200 pounds was placed atop the church. Generous donations totaling $2300 from former parishioners and friends made the restoration possible.
On August 7, 1985, the St. Martin's (Loucky) Church was accepted for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.
Each year numerous requests to tour the church are received. St. Martin's Church stands today as a historical landmark and a monument to the sacrifices and the faith of early Clay County pioneers.