Back this summer at the Stutsman County Memorial Museum is an interactive look into various aspects of the past with Front Porch Chats at 2 p.m. every Sunday from now until the end of August.

"We started off wanting to keep it local but pretty soon we harvested all the low-hanging fruit," said Alden Kollman, SCMM treasurer, past president and Front Porch Chat coordinator.

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The chats started about four years ago. Once focused on local, now history from different parts of the state is discussed each weekend.

Topics stretch from the early practices of undertakers to soldiers stationed at Fort Seward to the last lynching in North Dakota.

Kollman is starting the chats off Sunday with his presentation on Anton Klaus, considered by many the father of Jamestown.

The Sunday after that, Jim Carlascio will talk about life as a conductor on the Northern Pacific Railroad. A week later, Bill Erling will discuss being an old-time parole officer and some of the odd things in that profession.

"Anybody that would like to come and speak is welcome to come and talk about their favorite topic," Kollman said.

One person discussed before was George Lutz, the lumber baron who built the house where the museum is located at 321 Third Ave. S.E.

Lutz immigrated to Jamestown from Germany around the 1880s. He worked his way up at a lumberyard to eventually become a manager. He switched companies and then started his own lumberyard, which expanded to lumberyards in various cities in the region.

After he died in 1927, the house spent 30 years as a "home for the aging." After a steam-power plant that provided heat closed, the home closed as well.

In 1965 it was purchased by the Pioneer Daughters, who created the Fort Seward Historical Society. Eventually it was renamed the Stutsman County Memorial Museum.

Now it houses four floors of memorabilia ranging from buffalo robes to a Japanese flag given to Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

"It's chock full of stuff on every floor," Kollman said. "Any place you can put something is taken up."

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week and 1 to 5 p.m. on the weekends. There is no admission charge but donations are welcome. Memberships can also be purchased at levels ranging from $10 to $500.

Anyone interested in participating in a Front Porch Chat can call Kollman at 320-7650 or email him at

"We're a resource for the people of the city and county and we'd sure like them to come and see what we offer," he said.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at