Author to speak in Wykoff Monday on 1921 death
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 2:03 PM
Murder, mystery and history…all in a good day’s volunteerism.
Calmar, Iowa, author Elaine Myhre Hegg will share a presentation on her book, “Death in a One-Room Schoolhouse,” during the annual meeting of the Wykoff Area Historical Society on Monday, March 20, 7 p.m., at the Wykoff Community Hall.
“I believe it is an interesting story, and it’s good to be reminded about some of the history of one-room country schools,” said Wykoff Area Historical Society director Shirl Boelter. “The one-room country schoolhouse was where many of our parents and grandparents attended school. Students who graduated before 1970 may have attended a one-room country school, and the Wykoff School Museum has pictures and information on all the one-room schoolhouses in the Wykoff area. This seemed like an interesting story to share with the community…one of our directors saw an article on Elaine Hegg and thought this might be a good fit for our organization.”
The article in the Spring Grove Herald and Bluff Country Reader, highlighted Hegg’s book, “Death in a One-Room Schoolhouse,” which chronicles the events that marked the day that Bergen School District #6 schoolteacher Inga Magnusson was killed at the schoolhouse outside of the settlement of Bee in rural Allamakee County in 1921.
“I had heard stories of this tragic event from my father, Clarence ‘Edwin’ Myhre, ever since I was a young child…he was one of her students and remembers when it happened,” Hegg told Spring Grove Herald writer Marlene Deschler.
The 23-year-old schoolteacher, Inga Magnusson, was beaten to death by Earl Throst in the basement of the remote schoolhouse on Dec. 12, 1921. He claimed that they had been dating and that she broke off the relationship, but this actually never happened, according to the book. What did happen to make him so angry to beat her to death? Hegg’s book has many more details from extensive interviews with people that were there or had connections with those involved.
“I wanted to see this story be preserved because I think it is an important part of our local history,” Hegg said in the interview with Deschler. “I have learned many interesting things along the way; not only was my father a part of the story as a student at that school, but I discovered that my great-great-grandpa was the man that sold the land so the school could be built on it. I also found that one of the flower girls at Inga’s funeral was my grandma’s sister. All of those girls were friends of Inga.”
The project took Hegg 15 years to complete. She was fortunate to be able to speak to the student who was the last one to see Magnusson alive. She was 90 years old at the time that Hegg visited with her.
“I feel very lucky that I got to meet her and talk to her about what she remembered about the day of the murder,” she said.
Hegg told Deschler she had seen the murder weapon, court documents and other resources as part of her research for the book on Magnusson’s murder and that she became acquainted with Magnusson’s nieces and nephews as well, ultimately being able to feature the schoolteacher’s graduation dress on the cover of “Death in a One-Room Schoolhouse.”
Hegg has presented her program at the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center cultural center in Spring Grove and also at events in Waukon and venues in La Crosse.
Her program is just one part of the Wykoff Area Historical Society annual meeting, as the 40 members have plenty to share about regarding the past year’s bustling busyness and the coming year’s plans to make improvements to Wykoff’s museum and Jail Haus Inn.
“WAHS has a primary mission to preserve the history of the Wykoff area and operate Ed’s Museum and the Jail Haus,” said Boelter. “The Wykoff all-school reunion was our main project for 2016. Edwin Krueger was selected as the 2016 Wall of Honor award for the Kingsland school district. The reunion was very successful…everyone had a good time. We had individuals from at least 50 of the graduating classes, and everyone enjoyed the dinner, dance, alumni band, bonfire, snake dance, tours of the school, reception for staff and catching up with classmates and other alumni. At the Jail or Ed’s, we were busy, but the Wykoff all-school reunion took most of our time. We did put a new roof on the Jail Haus in 2016.”
The WAHS board of directors meets the third Monday of every month to set a course for the historical society, and so far, fundraising is the word. A St. Patrick’s Day fundraiser dinner was held Monday, March 6, featuring beef stew and Reuben sandwiches.
“WAHS will be doing a landscaping project for the Jail Haus B&B, and we have been and will be selling root beer floats and ice cream at the Wykoff burger nights,” said Boelter.
Ed’s Museum, known locally as the greatest treasure trove of Wykoff historical artifacts, is dependent on people such as WAHS members to keep Edwin Krueger’s affection for oddments alive. The membership of the organization is made up of volunteers, who may join at any time.
“Volunteers are very important…anyone with an interest in Wykoff area history. We are in need of more volunteers to be tour guides for Ed’s Museum,” added Boelter. “It’s anyone with an interest in Wykoff area history. New ideas are always welcome, and at our annual meeting, we will be voting on organizing a subcommittee to focus on the Wykoff School Museum.”
The annual meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 7 p.m. and Hegg’s presentation is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. Lunch will be served after the program. For more information, contact Mary Sacket at the Bank Gift Haus, 507-352-4205.