New Rockne Museum Dedication & Grand OpeningThe Dedication and Grand Opening of the New Rockne Museum took place on Saturday, June 14, 2003 at 11:00 AM.
Reverend Alois J. Goertz said the Opening Prayer thanking God for the momentous occasion, a much needed rain during the night and a beautiful sunny day. Tina Horyza, President of The Rockne Historical Association, welcomed a crowd of over 250 people as they sat under the shady trees. A gentle breeze and refreshed earth held the promise of a new beginning; the springtime of a growing awareness of "roots" as RHA continues to preserve history.
Gerri Martinez, RHA Vice President, presented flags donated by Catholic Life Insurance to Marian Nelson, curator of the Pioneer Log Cabin. Charlie Nelson, Brian Goertz, and Letitia Wilhelm raised the new flags and Gerri led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner.
The first principal speaker, Rev. Alois Goertz talked about the uniqueness of the Rockne Community in keeping our heritage alive. The theme of his talk was, "capture history or it passes us by." He said, "If we donít capture it, itís lost."
Rev. Bernard Goertz recapped Rockneís history and gave a detailed report on how it all started back in 1846 when Daniel Lehman came from Silesia, Prussia and settled on Walnut Creek, now Rockne. About the same time two Meuth brothers built their homestead on Meuth Hill, a few miles East on what is known as Sandy Creek. By 1850 women and children arrived and thus the two communities grew.
Minnie Bartsch, curator, spoke about the founding of the Rockne Museum:
"The beginning of the building of the museum began as a spark in the mind's eye of the history committee formed to assist Father Alois Goertz in getting together the family trees for the first Rockne History book."
Then on Sept 16, 1990 a large group of Rockneites met and formed the Rockne Historical Association. We applied for and received non-profit status.
First project was the restoration of the Philip Goertz log cabin. Sylvester Goertz family donated the one room of the cabin and it was moved intact and then restored. Hilbig Park became a reality. Then the other buildings were acquired. All done by donations and labor of descendants of the first settlers.
Last year the "Lee" cabin was donated by the Lee family.
The next project of the RHA was to update the history book (1976) and that was done in 1996.
In 1993 the Sacred Heart Church offered RHA the use of a large room in the new hall for a museum. This was a great place for the museum and artifacts soon filled the room to overflowing. The members of RHA knew we would need to build a larger building. Elmer Goertz was chosen as fund raiser chairman and he chose a great committee to assist.
Ground breaking for the new museum was held last year (2002) in May. Bruce Loethan was chosen as consultant for the building and Timmy Tucker was the builder. On June 11th he began digging the foundation holes for the building.
Today, one year later, we dedicate this great building for the Rockne Museum which has all been paid for by donations.
We thank everyone for all the good things that have made this day possible. I would love to name all of you but it would be an impossibly long list. I do need to mention that Bernard Probst, Harry Wilhelm, Kathy Bartsch and Tina Horyza were expert in arranging the artifacts in the museum and Gerri Martinez and her crew for the landscaping. God bless you all!
Our next project is the Lehman log cabin restoration.
Elmer Goertz, museum fundraising chairman, praised and thanked his committee for a job well done.
The builder, Timmy Tucker, handed over the keys, and the RHA Board Members participated in the ribbon cutting.
Reverend Alois Goertz then prayed a special blessing for the new Rockne Museum. He gave the Benediction.
Tina Horza then invited all to partake of a delicious Bar-b-cue meal prepared by Don and Betty Harris, members of the Rockne Community and RHA.