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July 12, 2016 • Headline News
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Series focuses on museums in county
Friendship’s Rand Museum makes a big bang

Sandy Day Howard

Editor’s note: In light of the state’s bicentennial Ripley Publishing will take a look at the various museums in our county. We start with the southeast corner of the county in Friendship.

Amid the recent discussion about gun control and ownership is an organization in our own backyard that stands for the preservation of one of our countries many guaranteed freedoms. The National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association declares its support of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States…the right to keep and bear arms. The entity, founded upon the preservation of the heritage of early American guns, has been in existence for nearly 100 years. It exists to promote, support, nurture, and preserve NMLRA’s and our nation’s rich historical heritage in the sport of muzzle loading. The NMLRA museum was created to memorialize and preserve those events."It is vital that the history and heritage of muzzleloading be passed on to future generations," according to the organization’s mission statement. It is because of that basic belief that the NMLRA hosts the annual spring and fall shoots, and expands gun sports through going back to the primitive methods used by our forefathers.

Rand House Museum FriendshipSANDY DAY HOWARD PHOTO
The Brockway Rifling Machine built by Thomas Brockway was used for making grooves inside the barrel of the rifle. The picture above it is of a local man in the old days.

According to the NMLRA’s Chris Gergin, Friendship became the home for the association after the late Wilkie S. Lemon loaned the group a patch of ground in the valley to use for its various purposes in the early 1930s. The first of the shoots was held in the field behind the old Friendship School as you enter town. As time went on, the organization became financially able to purchase property in the little valley. Years ago, the “Rand House Museum” was formed, a combination of artifacts from the NMLRA and the Town of Friendship itself.

The Rand House has been restored as close to its 19th century state as possible and contains countless items on display from the NMLRA collections, spanning many years of history and covering all aspects of muzzle loading. Among the most treasured items is the Brockway Rifling Machine, a machine that operates to form the barrels of muzzle loading rifles. Proudly displayed in the second floor stairway is a Flintlock gun, a weapon nearly 8 feet long that was used in primitive hunting to shoot flocks of birds.

“We have hundreds of trophies donated by former NMLRA members and winners of events.” Gergin explained. “We have a 1937 National Championship trophy that was donated by the wife of a deceased former winner. At that time, even though the NMLRA was housed in Friendship, the shoot itself was held in Pikesville, Ky…you’ve heard of the Kentucky McCoys? As in ‘the Hatfields and the…?’,” grinned the NMLRA executive. Gergin relayed how a man had competed in the 1937 national shoot, winning the first place trophy. He stood proudly by, being congratulated by peers and judges and basking in his success, when an onlooker suddenly came to where the man was standing and whispered in his ear, “You best be takin’ that there trophy and git out of town,” the man whispered. “You just beat one of the McCoys.” As the story goes, it didn’t take the winner long to load up his prize and head north. “That trophy was donated to us sometime back after the guy died, and we’re glad to have it!” Gergin laughed. Historic photographs, vintage clothing, and multiple awards, memorabilia, and trophies are on exhibit at the old home as well as at the Education Building on NMLRA grounds. Oral histories that have been taped with NMLRA members are also part of the association’s collection.

Regardless of your views on gun control, The United States Bill of Rights and Constitution guarantees its citizens that “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Historically, this "inalienable right" was instituted so US Citizens, formerly oppressed by the tyrannous British parliament, could organize a militia, uphold the law, suppress insurrection and to help facilitate the natural right to defend themselves. The wording “shall not be infringed ” at the end of the one sentence amendment simply means that self protection is a God given right. The term was included by our forefathers as a reminder to the government that it should not try to prohibit its people from that right. These thoughts are the basis of the NMLRA’s absolute stand on the right to bear arms, the same today as in years past.

The Rand House Museum is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. through the NMLRA office. There is no charge to visit. Friendship, via the NMLRA will be hosting a series of shooting events, youth shoots, and primitive and historical re-enactments in coming months. For a complete list, please access the association’s website at The office can be reached at 812-667-5131.

Local Bulletin Board

Application deadline is Friday, August 5.
Tyson Fund grant applications available
Many years ago, before Jim Tyson passed away, he wanted to set up a system to perpetually assist the residents in Versailles with things that might otherwise increase their taxes. He decided that he would set up a trust so that groups that are nonprofit and hold an IRS 501c (3) or (4) exemption could request funds to help them out with projects that would otherwise fall on the taxpayers in the Versailles area! For more information about the Tyson Fund, eligibility and how to apply read page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated June 14.

Contest is set for July 17.
Applications available for county queen contest
The Ripley County Queen Contest is set for July 17. To enter the pageant, contestants must be 16 years old and cannot be over 21 by the time of the 4-H fair for this year, which starts July 23. Read the rules and more details on page 2 of the Osgood Journal dated May 31.

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