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Dirt Collection Housed At Local Museum
When Evelyn Birkby was offered a collection of dirt for the historical museum in Sidney, Iowa, she thought it was a joke. The museum board member soon found out there was a lot of interest in those bottles of dirt.
  "The collection has since been written up all over," says Birkby. "To my amazement, those little jars of various types of dirt have attracted more attention than anything else in our museum. People hear about it and want to know more."
The samples are housed in neatly labeled, small glass jars. They come from every state in the U.S., many Canadian provinces, Greenland, France, England and some African countries as well.
"There are samples from Buckingham Palace, the White House, Iwo Jima, Guam and elsewhere," says Birkby.
The collection was started by Uva Turnbull, a Farragut, Iowa woman. It started with a trip she and her husband took to Texas in the mid 1900's. A low cost alternative to souvenirs, the dirt samples gathered along the way became something special as others heard about it.
"While she and her husband gathered many of the samples, friends and relatives began sending her samples as they traveled," relates Birkby. "Uva recorded the location with the sample and enjoyed looking at and touching the jars from so many exotic or distant places."
Collecting the dirt became part of the fun as she and her husband attracted attention and questions from locals. Birkby quotes Turnbull as relating, "People think something big is afoot when they observe you painstakingly collecting dirt from their roadside or field."
The jars themselves are practically artifacts themselves. Originally, they were used as sample jars for the testing of butterfat content of cream.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Fremont County Historical Museum, P.O. Box 671, Sidney, Iowa 51652 (ph 712 374-3248; ebirkby@bitwind.net) or Evelyn Birkby (ph 712 374-2335).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #4