Museum is the keeper of the village’s stories

HINCKLEY — Many people already know the Harlem Globetrotters played their first game in Hinckley in 1927. But do you know the rest of the story?

According to Dolores Bastian, a man named Arthur Keys heard about the Chicago-based team and set up the game. When a local hotel refused to admit them because of the color of their skin, she said Keys let them sleep on the floor of his office.

But who actually won the game?

“The Globetrotters said they won and the town claimed they won,” Bastian said.

That is just one of many interesting stories that can be found at the Hinckley History Museum, where Bastian is the curator.

Bastian co-founded the museum three years ago with Ken Bushnell. She said it is an off-shoot of the Hinckley Historical Society, which started in 2007.

“She kept telling me I should start a historical society,” said Bushnell, a lifelong resident who used to ask Bastian, a photographer, to scan postcards and other town memorabilia. “I had never been to one. I didn’t know anything about it.”

Eventually, Bastian convinced him to hold a public meeting, which was so well attended it led to the creation of the society.

“I didn’t expect anyone to show up,” Bushnell admitted with a laugh. “I was astounded by the turnout.”

At first, Bastian said the idea was to create a virtual museum online, but the society soon found a suitable building at a deal they couldn’t pass it up. The building, located at 145 E. Lincoln Highway, is the site of the old post office and newspaper, the Hinckley Review.

Among the items at the museum are photographs, calendars, banners, books, newspaper clippings, dishes, glasses and two bright green signs for the 2009-10 girls’ state basketball champions. There is also a series of panoramas exploring the 1920s, which Bastian said was Hinckley’s heyday.

Probably the biggest item on display is a mastodon tooth which was discovered on a farm southwest of town in 1971.

“It’s amazing what comes in sometimes,” Bastian said. She said she would love to get a buffalo tooth to go with the mastodon.

Bushnell said the museum will accept everything, but those donating must sign a deed of gift so heirs can’t come back later and try to reclaim the items.

The museum is also looking for items to fill the front windows. Bastian said two local women supplied the front until they ran out of things to display.

The museum is supported by grants from the DeKalb County Community Foundation and the Roberts Family Foundation, and a fundraiser is held every spring. The next one is scheduled for April.

“All the other towns around us, they’ve all had their historical societies for years. We are playing catch up,” Bushnell said. Since the Hinckley museum is so new, some people are reluctant to donate, but that is slowly changing, he said.

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