This gallery is divided into two separate spiritual quests with one being successful and the other a failure. The first section represents a dream of a man, which failed to materialize. Baron Fersen left Russia just before the Bolsheviks took over. He arrived in the United States and soon formed the scientific philosophical organization called The Lightbearers. The Baron lived in many parts of the world, but finally settled in Seattle and consequently fell in love with the Gorge. He purchased a large tract of land in Skamania County with the intent of building a learning center. His financier died and then he died. So did his dream. The original organization dissolved and donated a few personal and household items to the Museum.
The second half of Spiritual Quest is the Don Brown Rosary Collection. Don Brown was interested in protecting and preserving the history of Skamania County, as well as that of the rosary. He is credited with founding the original historical society in 1926 and reorganizing it in 1959. (The Skamania County Historical Society planned, owns and operates the museum.) He wrote about local county history and published a regular column for more than two years in the local weekly newspaper. At the same time, he was collecting rosaries. After receiving the notoriety of collecting and documenting the largest number of rosaries in the world, he donated the collection to the county in 1973. It was leverage to convince the county to support a small history museum. The collections grew to create a need for a larger facility. Although the county does not finance the current museum, it was the beginning of the dream.
The rosaries can be identified by the catalog number and a few are historically significant. Of special interest: a simple rosary used by John F. Kennedy; one with Father Flanagan’s signature; a gift from Lawrence Welk, and one from Lou Holtz. Read more about Dan Brown here.
The limited space no longer permits the Museum to accept donations of rosaries or other religious items. Donation of funds, however, is welcomed and will be used to publish the catalog.