The McPherson Museum will be open to the public beginning June 1. We will ask that guests practice social distancing and you are encouraged to wear a mask. The Museum staff will do everything possible to make your visit enjoyable and safe.
Also, the Museum is available for rentals to groups of 30 or less. Call 620.241.8464 to book your event.
Hope to see you soon!
Chester- the piglet with one head and two bodies
One of the stranger things in the museum’s collection is Chester – a mutant piglet that was born with one head and two bodies. For years he was on display in the museum at its former location on East Euclid. Chester was one of the more sensational items in the “Medical Room,” along with the preserved specimens of tonsils, gall stones, and other medical oddities.
These were removed many years ago as was felt that they may be too disturbing to some. However, one request we would constantly hear was, “Where is that mutant pig?” We would explain it was no longer on display. This always met with great disappointment from our visitors.
In the summer of 2019, the MMAF decided to do a new temporary exhibit called “What the Freak?” showcasing some of the strange and weird artifacts in our collections. Chester made a triumphant return and was one of the favorites of the exhibition. It was during this time that we found out the story about Chester from the original donor and his grandson when they came to visit.
Chester was born on a farm near Conway, Kansas during the winter of 1980. He did not survive the birth and the farmer realizing this was an unusual event, thought to donate Chester to the museum. He put the piglet in the trunk of his car intending to make a trip to town but forgot about it for several days. Fortunately, the weather that winter was very cold, which froze Chester and kept him from decaying.
After realizing that he still had Chester in his car, the farmer made a trip into town and donated the piglet to the museum. Chester’s new home was a gallon jar filled with alcohol. Over the years the metal lid of the jar deteriorated and deposited rust turning the liquid to a brown mess. Before Chester could be put back on display he was removed from the jar, rinsed, and reinserted with fresh alcohol and a new plastic lid. Chester now awaits to be put back on permanent display for all to marvel at his uniqueness.
The McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation has an assortment of over 30,000 artifacts in collections. We will be posting some of the more diverse examples for your enjoyment. We hope to see you in the future. Until then, stay safe and well.
Henderson Foot Warmer c. 1912-1939
In the days before our homes were made comfortable by central heating, people found other ways to stay warm and toasty in their beds. Besides piling on thick layers of blankets and quilts, an assortment of devices was used to try to keep the chill off at night.
Some were as simple as taking a brick, warming up near the fireplace or on the cookstove, wrapping it in towels, and then placing it in the bed to allow the heat to radiate from it during the night. Another variation of this was to use a slab of soapstone in place of the brick. The soapstone’s ability to retain heat and dissipate slowly, along with it being resistant to cracking, made it preferable to using bricks.
Other types of bed warmers were made from brass or copper. These were in the shape of a pan with a lid attached to a long handle. The pan was filled with hot embers from a fireplace and then it was passed in between the sheets to warm them up before one got into bed. The disadvantage of this type is that it was used only to warm the bedding, and not kept under the covers all night.
Around 1912 the Dorchester Pottery Works in Dorchester, Massachusetts began producing the Henderson foot warmer, named after the original owner of the company. These earthenware warmers were sometimes called “piggy” or “china pigs” because of their shape. They were meant to replace rubber hot-water bottles which had a tendency to leak or burst soaking one’s bed and ruining a night’s sleep.
According to an advertisement from 1917, when filled with hot water the Henderson Foot Warmer would retain heat for twenty hours, providing comfort and warmth. The ad further states that the design wouldn’t roll over and leak and was perfect for baby beds, hospitals, and people with poor circulation. It sold for $2.00 and was guaranteed to last a lifetime. While this “piggy” has survived the test of time the same cannot be said for the continued manufacture of the foot warmers, as the Dorchester Pottery Works ceased production of them in 1939.
The McPherson Museum and Arts Foundation has an assortment of over 30,000 artifacts in collections. The MMAF would like to share some of these so we will be posting some of the more eclectic examples for your enjoyment. We hope to see you in the future. Until then, stay safe and well.