Fundraiser for historic Marshall County blacksmith shop

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Proceeds support conservation of historic artifacts

DES MOINES – Saddle up for a ride through Iowa history and trivia next week when the State Historical Society of Iowa hosts a fundraiser for the historic Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop in Haverhill, between Bondurant and Marshalltown.

The Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop Fundraiser will be 6:30 p.m. at the Haverhill Social Club, 202 First St. in Haverhill. Participants can join a trivia contest about Iowa, Marshalltown, the Edel family and blacksmithing to win behind-the-scenes tours of the State Historical Museum of Iowa. Tickets are $15 and include one Matthew Edel signature drink, “The Anvil.” Proceeds will support the conservation of historic artifacts at the blacksmith shop.

A German immigrant, Matthew Edel owned the blacksmith shop in Haverhill from 1883 until his death in 1940. His family donated the shop and its contents in 1986 to the State Historical Society of Iowa, which documented 4,486 artifacts and left them exactly as Edel did 76 years ago.

Over the past 30 years, visitors have enjoyed seeing the shop and the rare collection of blacksmith gear Edel used to build and repair wagons, horseshoes and the beautiful iron crosses that mark graves in a cemetery nearby.

Today, however, some of the artifacts are showing signs of severe deterioration. Prolonged exposure to light, humidity and the cycle of Iowa’s hot summers and cold winters have taken a toll on many items, and the process used to document the collection has left our understanding incomplete.

With the support of Edel’s great-grandson and family, the State Historical Society of Iowa is raising money to care for and conserve artifacts at the blacksmith shop, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Through its fundraising campaign, the State Historical Society of Iowa will be able to conserve the shop and its artifacts for future generations. Historians and museum professionals will catalog and photograph the artifacts using current museum standards and provide appropriate storage for original papers. Some metal objects also will be treated to prevent further damage.

The project recently received a potential financial boost when Edel’s great-grandson offered to match up to $10,000 of all the funds the society can raise before Dec. 20 to upgrade the conservation of artifacts to modern-day standards. 

Tax-deductible gifts made to the Iowa Historical Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, support the State Historical Society of Iowa.

The Matthew Edel Blacksmith Shop is one of eight historic sites overseen by the State Historical Society of Iowa, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

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The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.

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