The 2016 History Hunt sponsored by Merrill Historical Society on Saturday, April 30 was a resounding success. Twenty-three teams made up of 98 people spent the day searching the Merrill and Gleason area for clues to solve a fantasy crime, “The Anatine.Case.” Along the way they learned about the Heineman family and the Village of Heineman from local historians Bea Lebal and Polly LaMontagne. Participants also enjoyed scenic, if somewhat hurried, walks along the Prairie River and in the Gleason countryside while hunting for clues. Many area businesses opened their doors with specials and raffle prizes for the Hunters.
A unique twist to this year’s History Hunt was the addition of the Society’s Facebook page, Merrill History & Culture Center, as an integral part of the day. Every 45 minutes the teams out in the field would receive updated information from Bill Eider (aka Ryan Schwartzman) which kept them abreast of the investigation’s progress. As teams posted their locations, the people at headquarters were able to see who was actively hunting as opposed to sampling the food and beverage specials along the route. Accommodations for those without access to a smart phone were made. These teams were able to call in on their basic phones and speak directly to an officer at headquarters who shared the same clues being posted on the Merrill History & Culture Center Facebook page.
At the Crime Solution Press Conference held at the event After Party, Detective Dirk Drake (aka Wayne Vandre) of the Merrill Historical Society Bureau of Investigation announced that four criminals, Hubert, Dwayne, and Louise Ducque, along with the mastermind of the crime, Ebenezer von Ducque, had been successfully apprehended thanks to the work of the History Hunters. The stolen article was revealed to be the original deed transferring property from Sigmund and Tena Heineman to the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Winners in the judged categories were Happy Trails to Clue for Best Team Vehicle, Quacker Jacks for Best Team Name and Case Quackers for Best Team Costume. Numerous other raffle prizes sponsored by area businesses and organizations were also awarded.
The Merrill Historical Society’s mission is to educate the public about our heritage using the unique historical and cultural resources we collect and preserve. For further information on the programs and activities of the Merrill Historical Society, or to become a member, please contact the Society at 715-536-5652 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or see the website at www.merrillhistory.org.