- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

NORFOLK, Neb. (AP) - One of the most important documents related to Norfolk’s history has a new lease on life thanks to a local doctor.

The Norfolk Daily News (https://bit.ly/2fSCJ2g ) reports the document was given to Norfolk’s early city fathers in 1868, the year the town acquired its post office and its name. That year, August Raasch was named the first postmaster.

Raasch, a veteran of the Civil War, had immigrated to the Nebraska Territory from Wisconsin with a number of fellow German Lutherans.

Through the years, the document in question was handed down from one Raasch to another and displayed and stored in a variety of places. It eventually ended up with Norman Raasch, the son of Darius and Clair Raasch and grandson of August. For a while, the framed piece of Norfolk history hung on the wall of Norman’s garage.

Dr. Dan Karmazin, a friend of Norman and his wife, Virginia, discovered the prized piece of paper while helping Virginia go through the family’s belongings. While still in one piece, the document was stained, discolored and in need of care.

With Virginia’s permission, Karmazin took the document to the Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, where Hilary LeFevere, a conservator, analyzed its condition and did what she could to preserve it.

“It’s a piece of Norfolk history and a piece of U.S. history,” said Karmazin when explaining why he had it preserved. Not only is the document almost 150 years old, it is the force behind Norfolk becoming a town. Claiming a post office was the first step in the development of most communities.

Karmazin also found a letter from John Thayer written in support of the Post Office. Thayer, a Civil War general, was representing Nebraska in the U.S. Senate at the time. He was elected in 1867 and served until 1871.

President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Thayer governor of the Territory of Wyoming in 1875. His service there ended on May 29, 1878, and he returned to Nebraska to resume his law practice.

In 1886, Thayer secured the Republican gubernatorial nomination and was elected Governor of Nebraska by popular vote. He served in that position from 1886 to 1888.

Thayer’s letter was still in good condition and did not need repairs.

But the Post Office document was dirty and had mold and water stains, which is why LaFevere cleaned it and disinfected part of it with alcohol “to reduce chances of future mold growth.”

She also washed the document in a tray of deionized pH neutral water, which released more “degradation products.” Areas of the document were washed again to remove more of the stains.

The process caused the paper to tear, but LaFevere repaired it with Japanese tissue that had been toned to the same color as the paper.

The Ford Conservation Center is the only full-service conservation center in the Midwest, LaFevere said.

There, conservators repair not only documents, but also ceramics, glass, metals, ethnographic materials, archaeological materials, wooden artifacts, works of art on paper, photographs, documents, archival materials, books, paintings and textiles.

The facility sits on land that was the site of Gerald R. Ford’s birthplace, which is why it’s named after the former president. It is part of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Now that it’s been repaired, Karmazin has taken it Ravenwood Art Gallery where owner Gale Jones will frame it, following instructions provided by LaFevere.

After restoration, an important piece of Norfolk history is ready for the next 150 years.

___

Information from: Norfolk Daily News, https://www.norfolkdailynews.com


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide