History Night! – An Evening of Entertainment & History!
3rd Monday of each Month
January through May, and September through November
@ Palmer Moose Lodge 7:00pm.
All are invited to our Free event!
Check our Facebook page and sign up for our Newsetter for all the details!
See you there!

Check our Newsletter Page for History Night information.
Click on a Newsletter to see a History Night overview for that month and the previous month.
Scroll below for overviews of some of our past History Nights!

May 2017 History Night

Alaska Mat Su Dirt Fishers

This was our last History Night until September!

We had an evening of sharing the treasure hunt experience of metal detecting in Alaska. MatSu Dirtfishers Association’s President, Douglas Cruthers and cohost Allen Nichols gave an exciting presentation about the treasures of metal detecting.

A slide show accompanied by actual finds made here in Alaska and other parts of the world, including Roman artifacts was presented. Show & tell included some of the metal detecting gear used in the field.

The Mat-Su Dirtfishers Association is our local metal detecting club here in the Valley. They shared the upcoming 5th Annual Metal Detecting Hunt & BBQ being held on the 24th of June at the Horse Heaven Farm off the Palmer Fishhook Rd.

What a great night of treasure viewing, learing & sharing with our local detectorists as they shared their passion for history.

April 2017 History Night

Dr. Stephen Brown

Rhodiola Rosea as a New Alaskan Crop?

The biggest challenge that Alaskan farmers face is trying to grow crops that don’t want to live in Alaska.  However, what kind of commercially profitable crops can you grow that like our harsh environment?

Enter Rhodiola rosea.

Rhodiola is a plant that is native to Siberia and is harvested for its roots.  Rhodiola has many uses, but is primarily used as a non-toxic substitute for caffeine.  Once Alaskan production reaches 200 acres,

it will be the most valuable crop in the state…not counting our recently legalized cannabis crops.

Palmer is ground zero for the development of Rhodiola in Alaska. All the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rhodiola research is being conducted at the Matanuska Experiment Farm.  Research agenda include improving production, developing best practices for processing and creating value added products such as blueberry, birch and Rhodiola flavored vodka.

This presentation will be led by Dr. Stephen Brown who is the Principal Investigator for the project.  He is a Professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and serves as the Matanuska/Copper River District Agricultural Agent.  In his spare time, he is an avid mountaineer and marathon runner.

March 2017 History Night


Stories from the Colony House Museum

Every day is historic when you volunteer at the Colony House Museum!

Our docents meet & greet, listen & learn, promote & educate all while wearing a smile 😊

Join the fun as our docents share humorous (hi)stories of their times at the Colony House Museum.  There’s sure to be many laughs!

February History Night was rescheduled due to illness of our guest speaker

January 2017 History Night

Denny Hamann

A fantastic & unusual historical Colony collection was brought by Denny Hamann.  Denny has been gifted his grandparent’s items, which were not in ‘collection’ form when he received them.  Denny has been systematically organizing the items for the past few years.

This collection includes 1000’s of items including the slip of paper drawn by colonist Leroy Hamann to determine the tract Leroy & Gretchen would live on, tract 108, & Leroy’s Farmall tractor, (which still operates) and everything in between!

Denny is guessing his grandparents didn’t throw away even a piece of paper – and he has many receipts to prove it!

Thank you, Denny, for preserving & sharing the Hamann Colony story!

November History Night

Roger Hansen

What do George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Harry Truman, John Wayne and Buzz Aldrin have in common? Roger Hansen shared the results of over two years of researching and documenting the history of the Masonic Clubs in Alaska. Roger explained the difference between Masonic Clubs and Lodges. We heard about the first Masonic Club in Alaska dating back to 1899. Did you know that in the 1930’s there were two Masonic clubs in Palmer?  Roger has done extensive research on the Alaska Lodge history, which included visiting many of the lodges still in existence!  What a great gift of history his publication will be!

October History Night

Richard Estelle

Richard Estelle brought a great collection of Palmer historic photos to share and collect information about.  We had a successful evening of identifying people and places in the photos. Richard works with the Palmer Museum of History & Art/Palmer Visitors Center to organize and identify their collection of photos.  This is a detailed job and will be a great asset to our community and others looking to research family, friends, and Palmer history in general.

September History Night

Pat Garley

September History Night was a celebration of achievement for the Palmer Historical Society Board of Directors!  We had commissioned Pat Garley to create a bronze memorial statue to complete the Colony Memorial in the Historic District of Palmer.  The Board attempted to commission this artwork years ago and due to unforeseen circumstances the statue didn’t come to completion.  This Board picked up the project and this time we are happy to present this piece in memory of the Colonists.  Pat shared the process of the artwork of doing bronze sculpting – Wow! What a process it is!  Visit our piece in Palmer and enjoy!

May History Night!

Laurel Bill

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALaurel Bill always fascinate with her profound memory for Alaska History!  One again we were thrilled with the next addition to Aunt Phil’s Trunk series!  Be sure to grab the latest addition to add to your library of Alaska history!

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April History Night!

Palmer Museum of History & Art


Selena presented a great combination of History and Art  – knowing the History behind the Art really gives insight into what was going on in the world at the time  So interesting!  Thanks to Selena and her living art team for sharing Art History!


March History Night!

Lael Morgan & Tom Brennan

Dead Man's DancerGood Time Girls

“A Heart of Gold: Alaska’s Good Time Girls Past and Present” was the topic of conversation this History Night!  Entertaining and amazing history was brought tonight by Lael and Tom.  We all learned a lot!

February History Night!

Helen Hegener

Alaskan Roadhouse

From the earliest tent-style roadhouse to today’s picturesque roadside lodges, Alaska roadhouses are a colorful reminder of our state’s past.  Helen is a wealth of knowledge!  We all enjoyed sharing stories of Palmer history!

January History Night!

Clyde Oberg

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Clyde Oberg is such a great story teller!  With wife June adding her memories to complete the stories – you missed out if you weren’t there to hear this wonderful bit of Palmer history!  The Obergs are still making history in Palmer – June and Clyde are busy as ever volunteering for Palmer Historical Society at the Colony House Museum and as hosts, serving their delicious baked goods, at our History Nights each month.  Thanks for all you do for Palmer History Obergs!

November History Night!

Yukon Don Tanner

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Yukon is a great story teller with great stories to tell!

We were entertained with tales of adventure on the Yukon River and given a mini session of the benefits of Chaga. Yukon has a wealth of researched compiled for an upcoming publication – we await the debut!

October History Night!

Wendy Wesser – The life of Heine and Alice Snider

wesser_wendy2015-10-21 014    2015-10-21 015Heine Snider lead a life of adventure!  He was a world traveler – starting in Holland and landing in Alaska!  Heine and Alice left a legacy in Wasilla and throughout Alice, Heinie, Ann Sniderthe state of Alaska. Heinie was a territorial representative and know as the Wild Cat from Wasilla!  Many stories were shared at History Night, from Wendy, and our audience members. Heinie was quite a character!

September History Night!

Katie Mangelsdorf – Through the eyes of Joe Redington Sr.

We all know Joe Redington Sr. as the Father of the Iditarod. Katie shared fun stories of Joe starting with his birth in 1917 in Oklahoma. Joe was known as a person that you could count on, a hard worker, and a man of his word.

He often quoted “Do not give in to your fear. If you give into fear you can’t think straight.”

He asked Katie to tell the school children, during her presentation of Joe’s life, ‘if you are afraid, stop, think about it, who can help you get out of the situation, go home and have a cup of hot cocoa and then be afraid.’

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May History Night!

Helen Hegener – The Colony Story in picture and word

Our May History Night brought us together for a great time of feasting on Colony history, great treats from our favorite host and hostess, June and Clyde Oberg, and a time of sharing stories with friends – old and new.

Helen published two new books about the Matanuska Colony- An overview of the Colony and an Album of photographs of the Colony.  Both books are available at the Colony House Museum gift shop.

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  April History Night!

Earl Wineck – a fantastic Story Teller!

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History Night brought us fantastic, entertaining, and hilarious stories from a favorite Colony Kid Earl Wineck.

The Wineck family has a long history in Alaska.  We learned of Earl’s grandfather’s work in the Klondike gold rush and his dad, Ed’s, start as a cannery worker in Bristol Bay at age 19.

In Michigan Ed married Emma, and Earl and his brother Ray were born. The family later moved to South Dakota as the first leg in their adventure toward Alaska. Earl learned English as a second language when he started Kindergarten at age 5, brother Ray was then 3 years old. Earl’s father and uncle made their heroic journey to Alaska in the spring of 1934.  Their journey included a Studebaker, a ship, a train, a boat, and ended with the Studebaker in Palmer J.  To hear Earl tell the story is priceless!

Emma and the boys arrived in Alaska in February 1936. Earl was then 8 years old. The family took over tract 174 in Camp 10.  Ed Wineck worked on many of the Colony barns and houses in the Butte area. He also worked on the school which opened the fall of ’36. The Wineck property was the source of water for many of the colonist families for a time.

As a child Earl enjoyed ice skating, skiing and sledding when not doing ‘handle work’.  Handle chores included the ax, pump & shovel.  Earl also helped with the farm as all kids did in those days.  Chickens, cows, horses and gardens all require a lot of work!  Earl was the ‘happiest guy in the world when we got the tractor!’

The Mukluk Telegraph was great radio entertainment for the family. They listened and anxiously awaited messages from their dad who was working on base in Anchorage at that time.

Earl has fond memories of visiting close neighbors, the Sandvik’s, sauna and gave us a quick lesson in the correct Finnish pronunciation ‘sowna’.  J

At age 14 Earl started working at the commissary unloading boxcars with contents to be stored in the warehouse.  Earl, also a delivery driver, would distribute the goods around Palmer.

Earl states that a trip to Anchorage would take 4 hours – one way – with top speeds at 35mph those days.  The ‘highway’ was not an easy road to travel as it is today!

Earl and wife Rebecca were so much fun!  We encourage Earl to write a book of his life story -he has a great memory!  We could have listened and learned for hours!

March 2015 History Night

Historic Treasure Hunt and Historic Bear Hunt!

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Kelly Turney shared some great historic

treasures he has found on his Alaska Picker hunts!

Kelly owns Alaska Picker on the Palmer Wasilla Hwy.

Stop by for some awesome historical treasures!

Joseph Homme entertained us with a story of 1956 Bear Hunt that went tragically wrong.

Joe is a great writer and story teller!

Check out Cures and Chaos for a great read about Palmer’s Dr. Hume!

  Joe and Kelly are working together on a project to collect the history of the Palmer Business District – 1930’s-1970’s.

They are looking for information of all business’s during that time period.  If you have information and especially pictures please get in touch to share your information!

Thanks Joe and Kelly for your work to preserve History!

February 2015 History Night

February History Night brought a story of restoration!

The house with a (hi)story
The Campbell House -a Matanuska Colony farm house.

The road to restoration of the Campbell House is a journey that continues to share the history of Palmer.  Palmer’s history is also an important part of USA history – folks from all over learn about the Colonists and Palmer history when staying at the Campbell House.

If you missed the presentation you missed the process of renovation, road to the National Historic Preservation award, and the National Historic Register of Historic Places process -but you can check out Campbell House website or Campbell House on Facebook for pictures of present day Campbell House.


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0 George Milton Campbell Jr almost 2yrs old The Homestead

 The house with a (hi)story

George and Onabel Campbell drew #54

located on S. Inner Springer Loop in Palmer.The William and Lulubelle Bouwens family lived in #54 after the Campbell family.                                                 DSC00000


 When purchased, this little colony house was listed as not livable –

now it’s a beautiful home listed on the National Historical Register!

 2015 – Began with a BANG!

 January – Marty Raney!

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Marty Raney amazed us with his tales of ADVENTURE!  He had the crowd roaring with laughter at his original Alaska songs!

Marty shared many stories including treks up and sliding down Mt McKinley, and his work on Ultimate Survival Alaska which is now airing on the National Geographic channel.

Check out all things Marty by clicking on his pic.

November 2014 History Night

Rick Mystrom entertained us all!

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Rick Mystrom entertained us with tales of his world wide adventures promoting Anchorage for the 1992 and 1994 Olympic bid.

Mr. Mystrom, an author of two books, also shared his story of living successfully with diabetes.

Rick has done years of research and testing on himself. He has charted the correlation of the foods he eats, and how his blood sugar levels react to individual foods.

These books are great reads for all- diabetic or not!whateat400download

Eric Fuglestad, engineer with Alaska Department of Transportation surprised us with copies of very important documents!

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October 2014 History Night was tons of fun!

Guest Speaker Ken Hughes Jr. is a fabulous story teller!

Ken was born in Palmer Tent City in 1935, but not a colonist!

         Ken Hughes Sr family Tent CityKen Hughes Sr Tent City

He drove the school bus at age 16!

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Ken Hughes Sr and wife Vivian ran the Lazy Mountain Children’s Home, on land donated by Max Sherrod, where Ken spent many of his growing up years.

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Ken shared lots of memories of the good ole days where ‘you don’t want to lock your door because someone                                                                                might want to come in’ while you are gone.

  Ken Hughes Jr digging potatoes

Ken’s classmate told him in 4th grade ‘I don’t like preacher’s sons – they’re too ornery!’.  Somewhere along the line she had a change of mind and Jennetta became his wife 🙂

The night went way to quickly as always  when captivated by fascinating Palmer history!

Thanks Kenny for sharing your (hi)story!

Fall is here and that means History Night!

Our September 2014 History Night was amazing!

Greg Durocher shared his wealth of knowledge on Rock Hounding!

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Well known authors Kimberley Woodhouse and Tracie Peterson

came to meet their fans! 🙂

They just published All Things Hidden – setting is Matanuska 1935!

(Interesting connection as we were discovering the hidden treasures that Greg shared inside our Alaska rocks)

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We had Show & Tell!

Check out the huge spud from the Colony House Museum!

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Bob Graham shared another of his peaks into Palmer history ~

Knapp’s Body Shop

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The evening ended with fantastic door prizes, delicious home baked treats, lots of catching up with friends and having our books signed by Tracie and Kim – a great time was had by ALL!

Stay tuned for upcoming news about October History Night!