New W’bago Museum board member excited
The Winnebago Area Museum recently welcomed a new board member to their organization. Danny Rynearson, a Winnebago native, was added to the museum board in January and brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience in collecting historical artifacts.
Ironically, Rynearson resides on a historical plot of land in between Huntley and Winnebago. This prime location serves as fertile ground for his own excavation efforts.
“I’ve picked up artifacts ever since I was a little kid. I think it’s a very interesting hobby,” Rynearson says.
The inquisitive artifact hunter was influenced at an early age by his uncle, Byron Hall, who had collected historical relics since the 1930s.
As it turned out, Hall’s wife donated many of these artifacts to the Winnebago Museum following his passing. These donations helped get the museum started in its inaugural year of 1976.
Rynearson, 72, recalls participating in many hunting expeditions with his uncle. He says several relatives also joined in on these quests to discover long lost heirlooms.
“I think the whole family enjoyed looking for artifacts because they’re becoming more rare all the time,” Rynearson explains. “There are only so many things there, and people have picked them up for years now. About 60 years ago, there was a lot more out there.”
With years of treasure hunting under his belt, the area farmer has a large collection of artifacts. In fact, Rynearson has already donated some of those precious findings to the museum.
Many of Rynearson’s findings include tools used by American Indian cultures. The involved hobbyist says unearthing unique pieces of pottery, arrowheads, and stone objects can provide a unique perspective into the lifestyles of people from past civilizations.
“I’ve got part of a pot where the person used their index finger to make an impression on the side of the pot,” Rynearson reveals. “And when I place my finger in the impression, it’s almost like joining up with history.”
Although Rynearson has done the majority of his artifact exploring in Winnebago, he has also traveled to Rice Lake in pursuit of artifacts as well. Rynearson explains there is a vast difference when he examines his findings from the two regions.
“In Rice Lake, the Indians there tended to make larger and probably a little more cruder arrowheads,” Rynearson shares. “Usually in Winnebago, the arrowheads were made with smaller points, and were finer with a little more craftsmanship. Their pottery had vastly different designs as well.”
In order to find these lost relics, Rynearson simply relies on surface hunting on higher ground such as knolls. Rynearson also suggests beginning an artifact search after it rains.
“You can really find things in the knolls after a nice spring rain when the ground is kind of black,” Rynearson says. “Things that are down in the lower ground just sink deeper into the soil.”
In addition to artifact hunting, Rynearson is utilizing his time on the museum board to engage in genealogical research. Because of the museum’s multitude of historical data, Rynearson was able to disprove myths about his own family background.
Rynearson once believed his grandfather’s family came to Winnebago from Iowa. After researching his family tree at the museum, he was astounded to have discovered otherwise.
“In one of the obituaries I found right here in this museum, they didn’t come up out of Iowa,” Rynearson explains. “They came from Wisconsin on a train, which only went as far as Waseca at the time, and they rode a stage coach to Winnebago.”
Museum board chair person Carol Hill is very excited with the enthusiasm Rynearson brings to the board. She encourages others in the community to stop by to learn about the town’s rich tradition.
“From our rare artifacts, to our genealogical information, the Winnebago Museum has so much to offer everyone who visits,” Hill says.