There's more than just packing going on at the Antelope County Museum right now. There are also a lot of treasures being found that haven't been seen in some time.
"There have been a few surprises," said Pat Kenaston, who's worked at the Antelope County Museum for the last five years.
Kenaston and Kim Madsen have spent much of the last two months packing and said about three-fourths of the museum items are already across the street in the new facility, which previously served as the Dollar General store.
The remodel is nearly complete and appears mostly empty to those peaking inside.
"You haven't seen the storage room then," Kenaston said with a laugh. "It's full."
Nearly all of the remaining items in the museum are packed in boxes and will be moved Thursday night thanks to help from the Neligh Volunteer Fire Department and the Neligh Young Men's Club members.
The displays, which are large and quite heavy, will be moved toward the end of next week by Andrews Van Lines.
Kenaston said she's stumbled across unseen items here and there and has been surprised by some, mostly old documents. But the one item that has left both Madsen and Kenaston bewildered is an old suitcase tucked back in the corner of a shelf in a storage room.
It belonged to E. Wagner of Beemer, who happens to be Madsen's great-grandmother. But how - or even why - the suitcase ended up in the Antelope County Museum is unknown to either of them.
"I don't know when it was donated or even why. I had no idea it was here," Madsen said. "It's a mystery, but a pretty cool one."
Most puzzles that they run across, Kenaston said, can be researched through A.J. Leach's books and notes. Kenaston said Leach, who was from Oakdale, took notes while visiting with people during the 1800s. He recorded stories and dates on Antelope County.
"He wrote on anything he could find - envelopes, brown sacks," Kenaston said. "And we have all those notes in his handwriting. When people come in the museum and ask about family members, we can reference his notes for a lot of it."
It's impossible to walk through the museum and not hear stories about some of the items, including the old jail that was moved over from the basement of the courthouse. The jail still has the hand-carved reference to an 18-year-old from Brunswick who received a 34-month sentence in Lincoln after stealing 30 chickens.
Most of those stories and memories will travel across the street. Some will not. There won't be references to the school rooms or where beds used to be.
The jail at the Antelope County Museum features this hand-carved reference to a crime committed years ago where stealing chickens led to a 24-month sentence.
The museum still has hand-written notes from A.J. Leach of Oakdale, who recorded stories and information told to him, mostly during the mid- to late-1800s. He wrote on anything he could find, including old envelopes and sacks.
The jail museum building has quite a history of its own. The bars remain on the windows and the cells are still upstairs. The new facility will be located across the street and will feature an open floor plan, lots of storage and even an archive room for scanning and research.
And the stories of a prisoner digging out of a room won't include a pointed reference to where the gun was that he took before he left in a stolen car.
Yes, even while for the best, change can be difficult.
"It's kind of sad that the museum won't be here, but it'll be a new adventure over there," Kenaston said.