A third and final mural was added to the outside north wall of the Henry County Historical Society Museum in Bishop Hill to kick off the village’s annual Jordbruksdagarna ag days celebration.

A third and final mural was added to the outside north wall of the Henry County Historical Society Museum in Bishop Hill to kick off the village’s annual Jordbruksdagarna ag days celebration.

The 10-by 7-foot colorful mural honors the younger farmers of Henry County who use antique equipment and demonstrate early farming methods. 

It shows Ben Strand and Greg Peck on a hay rack, using pitch forks to throw oats onto a conveyor belt going to a threshing machine. A threshing machine removes the seeds from the stalks and husks of oats and wheat. Roger Anderson and Ryan Ruhl are observing the the workers.

Anderson is a long time member of the board of the Henry County Historical Society and a tireless worker for the museum. He served as its president from 2001 to 2014. He encouraged these young men of the Bishop Hill area to bring in a corn sheller and threshing machine to demonstrate the previous methods Henry County farmers. Some years they demonstrate with a two row mounted corn picker.

Unfortunately this year, the crops didn’t cooperate for the demonstrations for visitors to Jordbruksdagarna. The corn was too wet for shelling, and the oats weren't ready.  They did hope to harvest some soybeans in the museum field with a tractor and an old-fashioned pull-type combine. They drove in many antique farming machines to display alongside some of Lloyd Anderson's collection.

The young men have been doing this for several years. They showed some of their antique equipment in the Old Settlers' Parade 16 years ago, and each parade since. Then during Ag Days, they have demonstrated at the museum for at least five years.

"I think we do this because we gain knowledge from our ancestors, and then pass that information to the young ones," Ruhl said. 

"I like to see the older guys come back and watch us work. They enjoy watching us, but not having to do it themselves anymore,” Peck added. “They like to offer advice on how to do the work."

"We learn from the old and teach to the young," Strand said.

All three men have children to watch the work. It also helps that their wives are very patient, too.

The first mural on the museum was completed in 2014 showing the late Orville Morey of Kewanee and his 1913 Case 50 HP traction steam that he restored.  

In 2015, the second mural appeared, honoring the tradition of arts in Bishop Hill and Henry County, especially the contributions of women. It featured Marilyn Nelson of rural Cambridge, who has owned the quilt shop, “The Village Smithy," in Bishop Hill since 1983.

All three murals were painted by a talented local artist, Lauren Schroeder, of rural Cambridge. Besides artwork, she loves the outdoors and nature and that is a huge inspiration to her artwork. She painted the murals in the machine shed on the family farm.

"I am amazed at the amount of people who are keeping the history of Bishop Hill and Henry County alive,” Schroeder said. “Now I realize that these murals can also serve that purpose. So I am pleased I have had a part in that work." 

She thanked workers from the Wilbur Nelson crew for helping her transport and mount the three murals on the museum, including Lauren's grandfather Wilbur Nelson, Ernie Hulstrom, Carl Werkheiser, Mark Maxwell, Roger Smith, Charlie Maxwell, and Bill Anderson. Her artwork can be found at the Village Smithy in Bishop Hill.

The museum is open every day through Oct. 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

"People comment over and over that it is the nicest museum they have ever visited," said current board president Patty Varner.