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Adair County Free Press

A front row seat to grassroots history

Jensen excited to be working at Adair County Historical Museum

Whether it's Jesse James, Henry A. Wallace, the impact the Sidey Family has made on the newspaper industry or the story of "Cold Turkey," a movie filmed in Greenfield about a town's strife in quitting smoking, you can find history's story told at the Adair County Historical Museum, at 2393 Lakeview Drive, Greenfield.

The museum opened for the season at the beginning of May, but beginning at the start of June was Ryan Jensen, of Bridgewater, who is the museum's summer employee.

Jensen, the son of George and Sarah Jensen, says he began loving history when his great grandfather Alvin Frese, a World War II Veteran, opened up to him when he was in the fourth or fifth grade about how he had been an anti-aircraft gun operator in Alaska as fears were still real that the Japanese might try to overtake Alaska or Hawaii. As those fears waned, Frese was re-trained in Texas to become infantry. He then went to Europe after D-Day, which was June 6, going to France, Germany and ending up in Czechoslovakia.

"Pretty much, I was just really interested in the war and wondered what did he see and what was going on there?," Jensen said.

Hearing about his grandfather's experiences at war inspired him to research it more. Jensen's mother teachers high school social studies at Nodaway Valley and highly encouraged him in his research. It led him to take an interest in military history as a whole.

"After World War II, I started getting into U.S. military history, and that's kind of where I am today, World War II to modern day — Vietnam, Korea, Iran and Iraq is my focus," Jensen said. "It grew from there. Mom helped a lot in my own interests. I went as far back as the Declaration of Independence and it went from a hobby to really something that I wanted to do."

As he enters his final year this fall at Buena Vista University and will graduate with a Bachelors of Arts in History and Education, Jensen hopes to either be able to teach middle or high school history or work in a museum. One reason he's excited to be working at the Adair County Historical Museum this summer is that it will give him a look into whether museum work is really what he wants to do. Next spring, he will possibly be faced with an opportunity to serve as an intern at a prestiguos museum in Washington D.C.

"My thought is to literally teach it to kids or to work in a museum or historical society like this where I can interact and teach. Stealing something that my professor says, 'History starts at the grassroots level.' History starts with private museums that keep county, town histories," Jensen said. "This is where a lot of our national history is actually kept, in these very small institutions who try to keep things up. That's where historians a lot of times will end up looking to tell the story, to look and see what the specific story is for this place or that place. It provides a much more intimate look into how the county has progressed since its establishment in the mid 1800s."

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