What started out as a building to house antique cars has transformed into an unusual museum for Jasper County.
Kennedy's Museum, located on the west edge of Newton by Illinois Route 33, features a varied collection of cars, trucks, tractors, hand tools and horse-drawn farm machinery. There's even an old depot with a caboose, as well as a log barn, one-room country school-house and the furnishings from the Rose Hill Post Office.
The man behind the whole thing is Lexie E. Kennedy, who is in the grain elevator business with his father and brother. A member of Newton-based Norris Electric Co-operative, Kennedy conceived the idea for a museum nearly 20 years after purchasing his first antique car - a 1915 Model T Ford, the oldest in his collection.
'Since buying that first car,' Kennedy commented, 'I've added one after another until it reached the point where I needed additional storage space.
'In the back of our minds we had thought about taking some of our farmland and developing a residential area for about 30 homes. And adjacent to the house we planned on having the museum.'
But it's turned out to be a bigger project. Kennedy's idea has mushroomed into one beyond belief. People will stop by while passing through Newton to inquire about the museum; others will have information on additional antique items which may be for sale.
Collection of engines in my shed. Wish you could pop along to have a look - as my total is now 54 engines and one Crawler.
My John Deere 'D', 1949, that I bought last year. The block, head and radiator were broken due to freezing. The head was split lengthwise below the valve seats. The radiator was cracked the entire length at the bottom and the block had a hole in the top the size of a dinner plate. I was able to repair all three by welding it. It is now running fine and I enjoy it very much.
'You'll never know what's going to happen next,' Kennedy said. 'Someone told me about a 1922 Chevy panel truck which had been in storage since 1936 in New York City. And here it is, still in its natural state with 1936 license plates.'
Although it's the only antique car that doesn't run, Kennedy plans to have it in running condition and restored with fresh paint. All his other antique cars are operable: the 1928 Whippet, 1918 Chevy touring car, 1931 Model A Ford, 1931 Chevy truck.
The museum, which is 160 feet long and 55 feet wide, also has other 'ancient' models: 1958 Edsel, 1951 Kaiser, 1941 Buick, 1948 Plymouth, 1947 Chrysler, 1964 Chevrolet Corvair and one of Newton's first fire trucks.
'After getting the cars into place, I decided to add room for a farm machinery display,' Kennedy said. 'This is a real asset, especially for those who come here and start reminiscing about the good old days.'
The agricultural display includes a horse-drawn one row Wayne Agricultural planter, a rare bull rake used in the late 1800's, an 1890 Deere Mansur horsedrawn planter, a 1925 McCormick Deering tractor, a Rumely '6' tractor, and various other kinds of farm tools and equipment.
'It's fun collecting the various items,' Kennedy said. 'And people enjoy stopping by. At our grand opening more than 2,000 people toured the museum. And it looks like we're going to have to open on weekends other than just the summer months.'
For those who like antique exhibits, the Kennedy Museum offers a new experience. Especially if you remember driving some of those older, or later, cars, yourself.
From such items as a 1922 Chevrolet panel truck from New York City to farm implements, buggies, wagons and even an old Rumely '6' tractor, the Kennedy Museum at Newton offers a varied collection. Inspecting the 1915 Model T Ford, from left, are Lexie Kennedy, the museum's founder, and Carl Mitchell, electrification adviser, Norris Electric Cooperative, Newton.
A 10-20 Mogul owned by Hohrein Bros., Lebanon, Illinois at 1973 American Thresherman Show, Pinckneyville, 111.
At right is 'The Pride' of our collection, a Rumely 20-35, owned by our family.
Massey Harris Challenger
A little threshing at Knights of Columbus Labor Day Picnic in 1972 at Teutopolis, Illinois by Ed Jansen's Twin City and Joe Borries Case separator.
Courtesy of Edward Jansen, Teutopolis, Illinois 62467.
This engine is owned by Wilbur W. Funk and Grandsons. It is in the 6 HP range, hit and miss governor, has no magneto, needs battery and coil yet, has a Blitz spark plug, patent date 1903. Anv information on this engine will be greatly appreciated.
Kind Friends! I enjoy your magazine so much. I am sending a picture of a tractor I made for my grandson, Richard Little, age 8. The wheels are from an old manure spreader, has 10 HP Briggs engine, Ford truck transmission.