NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Though used very little for its intended purpose, the threshing stone has become an important symbol for Bethel College and the Kansas Mennonite experience.
Glen Ediger, curator of Kaufman Museum’s current special exhibit as well as author of a newly published book, both on threshing stones, will present the first of four programs related to that exhibit, “Threshing Stone: Mennonite Artifact and Icon,” on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 21, in the museum auditorium.
Because the illustrated lecture is expected to draw so much interest, and with limited seating in the auditorium, Ediger will give the presentation twice – at 1:45 p.m. and again at 3:30 p.m.
In the program he has titled “Leave No Stone Unturned,” Ediger will share his research on threshing stone history and his quest to locate surviving threshing stones in North America.
“There are a lot fewer stones than I thought there were,” Ediger said. Of the 100 stones he located in North America, 86 are in the four south central Kansas counties of Harvey, Marion, McPherson and Reno, all of them connected in some way to Mennonites who began emigrating from south Russia and other parts of Europe to the Great Plains in the late 1800s.
Ediger’s interest in threshing stones was sparked when he and his wife received one from her family farm in the Goessel area several years ago. His research formed the basis for “Threshing Stone: Mennonite Artifact and Icon.”
“I really appreciated Glen’s insight into how a threshing stone is designed and how it works,” said Rachel Pannabecker, Kauffman Museum director. “He brings the unique perspective of an industrial designer to this history project.” Ediger is director of design/research and development for Vornado Air LLC in Andover.
Ediger recounts the entire story of the threshing stone in his recently published book Leave No Threshing Stone Unturned. On Oct. 21, he will sign copies of the book, which is available for purchase in the Kauffman Museum store.
The Oct. 21 program is the first of four Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum programs that complement the “Threshing Stone” exhibition. The Nov. 21 program features David D. Vail of Kansas State University; Dec. 9, Isaias Vail of Independence Community College; and Jan. 6, 2013, John Thiesen of the Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel College. All will take place at Kauffman Museum.
The programs are free to the public through funding from the Kauffman Museum Association, Bethel College and the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and build community.
Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the museum, which also includes admission to the special exhibit “Threshing Stone: Mennonite Artifact and Icon,” as well as the permanent exhibits “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website, www.bethelks.edu/kauffman/.