Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Earnest Warther’

Button Designs by Frieda Warther


Frieda surrounded herself with buttons and more buttons.

Almost everyone keeps a container of buttons someplace in their home. At one time, many cut off the buttons on old clothes and kept them in a jar or can. You never knew when you might need an extra button.

Frieda Warther did much the same thing.

Frieda Button Strings

Buttons hung on strings around the walls of their dining room so she could reach them easily.

Living in Switzerland until the age of four, the family then came to the United States and settled in Dover, Ohio. Frieda was the oldest of thirteen children. It was a Swiss tradition that the oldest child would receive their mother’s box of buttons and sewing tools. Thus began Frieda’s love of buttons.

Frieda Button House

This Button House originally housed the Warther Museum to display Mooney’s trains.

Today those buttons have been used in some of the designs at the Warther Button House, which is just outside Warther’s Museum in Dover.

When Frieda first met Earnest Warther, called Mooney by his friends, their first date consisted of a field trip to hunt arrowheads. After marrying Mooney, Frieda became a wonderful mother to their five children and Mooney’s main support as he developed into a master woodcarver.

Her main relaxation came from tending the gardens outside their home and Mooney’s workshop. She designed them to remind her of her back yard in Switzerland. When the children were young, these gardens contained many vegetables as well. Today, those flower gardens provide a peaceful place to relax with many benches available.

Frieda Bank

During the depression, Mooney hid his money under the coal in this train. But Frieda knew!

Mooney frequently ‘borrowed’ items from his wife to use in his carving creations. When he needed a belt to run one of his model trains, he would borrow it from her sewing machine and replace it when he found one in his journeys. He often liked to use red and green sparkling gems on his trains as well. These he borrowed from Frieda’s brooches.

When visitors came to see all of Mooney’s carvings in those early days, they often spent the afternoon viewing trains brought from storage in the various rooms of their house and even the attic. Frieda decided in 1936, it was time for a museum, so they built the small museum, which is today her Button House.

Frieda House

Kristen, great-granddaughter of  Mooney and Frieda, stands on the porch of the Warther’s’ home.

The porch of the Warther Home gave Mooney and Frieda the perfect place to watch trains go by on tracks just across the street. From here they could also watch their children playing in a large playground Mooney had created for them. It’s no surprise that there is a red caboose there also, since Mooney carved so many trains during his lifetime.

Inside the Warther Home, you’ll learn more about Frieda and the family. They lived in their original residence for sixty-three years.

Frieda Table 2

This table served as Frieda’s workplace for most of her button creations.

Life was busy for young Frieda, so it wasn’t until she turned sixty that she began working on her button designs at their dining room table. She began experimenting with various combinations and then attached them to a board with either wire or dental floss to make beautiful hanging designs.

Frieda Button Wall Favorite

Beautiful button designs fill the walls and ceiling of the Button House.

Mooney enjoyed her artistic endeavors by saying, “Sometimes while Frieda was working, she would drill too deep and hit our table. One look at her breathtaking designs and you will realize it was well worth all the holes.” Those holes can still easily be seen.

She also used buttons to make jewelry, a button tree, chess sets and many games. Strings of buttons hung in her kitchen just waiting to be used.


This picture postcard show Frieda in her Button House.

Today many of those creations containing 73,000 buttons can be found on the walls and ceiling of the Button House. Here you will find buttons of many kinds of materials: hand-painted ceramic, pearl, metal and wooden. Amazing as it may sound, there are no duplicates in the displays.

Frieda Lincoln Button

This button design features a button in the center from Mrs. Lincoln’s inaugural dress.

One of her favorite designs has, as its centerpiece, a button from the Inaugural Dress of Abraham Lincoln’s wife. Lincoln was a favorite of the Warthers, and Mooney followed Lincoln’s philosophy of life.

Because the family loved children, Frieda made one design especially for them. It consists of Cracker Jack prizes, novelties, and what she called Goofy Buttons.

Frieda Arrowheads

Arrowhead displays by Frieda also hung in Mooney’s workshop.

If you look carefully, you can also spot her button designs in another spot – the ladies’ restroom inside the Warther Museum. Had to inquire from a gentleman visitor regarding what was on the wall in the men’s restroom. Here Frieda made a creative display of Mooney’s arrowheads he found on his trips to the country with their family. You never know where creative objects might be found.

Frieda back

The back of a button display was shown by Sheila, our guide and daughter of Mooney’s barber.

There are still unfinished patterns that Frieda had planned. Even when she was in her final days at the age of 98, she was still asking people for one of their buttons if she saw an unusual one.

Soon thousands of springtime tulips will be blooming in Frieda’s Swiss Flower Garden. Many of the spring flowers were originally planted by Freida. Stop by and relax on a bench and imagine what it would have been like to live at “Dumb Street” along the Calico Ditch.

Warthers Museum can be found easily off I-77 in Dover, Ohio. Take Exit 83 to the east and follow the well placed signs to Warthers.

Lincoln Funeral Car Travels Original Route 150 Years Later

UNITED STATES, Lincoln's Funeral Car stopped in Dover, Ohio at Warther's Museum in 2015.

Lincoln’s Funeral Car stopped in Dover, Ohio at Warther Museum

Now he belongs to the ages – or maybe to the angels.

At the time of Lincoln’s death,  these words are sometimes credited to Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, but whether they are his or not, the words connect Lincoln to his peers and also to those above them.

Warther Museum recently hosted one of the stops for the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Train. It traveled from Washington D.C. to Springfield, IL in honor of the 150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s death. Over 50,000 visitors toured the Lincoln Funeral Car on its journey.

Warther carved this ivory replica train at the age of 80.

Warther carved this ivory replica train when he was 80.

People have always been fascinated with Lincoln’s Funeral since 1865. Ernest Warther carved Lincoln’s funeral train out of ivory to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of his death. Therefore, they thought it would be fitting to have the replica of the original, stop by Warther Museum on its journey across America.

The ivory carving was finished in 1975 when Earnest Warther was 80 years old. A hippo’s ivory eye tooth was used because it is the very best grade of ivory. Warther commented, “Nothing but the best for Lincoln” as Lincoln was his hero.

Warther admired Abraham Lincoln and had a vast collection relating to the president.

Warther admired Abraham Lincoln and had a vast collection relating to the president.

For the 150th Anniversary, outside the museum sat a wooden replica car, which they tried to keep as close as possible to the original.  The train car traveled as the trailer of a semi with highway wheels attached.

Dave Kloke of Kloke Locomotive Works in Elgin, IL and a staff of craftsmen were responsible for most of the work on this replica, which took four years to finish. Along the way he had a great deal of help from researchers in construction and history. One of those was a chemist and model train maker, Wayne Wesolowski of University of Arizona. All Wesolowski could find of the original train car was a pencil sized piece of wood. From this the chemist in him determined the original color and type of wood used. He wanted everything to match the original car.

This armored car was compared to Air Force One in regards to security and its design equaled the opulence of railroad cars used by European Royalty. This “Presidential Car” contained three rooms: parlor, stateroom, and sitting room.

The Lincoln coffin was 6'8

The Lincoln coffin was 6’8″ long with handles made by the same company that made the original ones.

Upon entering the car, a 6’8″ casket appeared before your eyes. This long casket was made especially for Lincoln, a tall man for his time. The handles were made by the same company that made the original ones for Lincoln’s coffin. Chairs were for the soldiers to sit as they guarded the coffin during its entire journey.

Lincoln felt this train too luxurious when the country suffering from the effects of the Civil War.

Lincoln felt this train too luxurious when the country suffered from the Civil War.

The presidential bedroom had never been used as President Lincoln felt this Presidential Car was too luxurious when many in the country were living in poverty. This funeral car, draped in black crepe, was one of nine cars in the funeral procession and was always the second to last in line.

Young Willie's coffin was carried at the place there is a sofa today.

Young Willie’s coffin was carried at the place a sofa sets today.

Son Willy’s coffin was also on this train even though he had died three years previously. It was in the living room section where it replaced the couch. Lincoln’s wife did not go on this trip as she was too distraught.

Even the wheels of the train were patriotic.

Even the wheels of the train were patriotic.

This car was never used for anything else or by any other presidents. The following year, it sold for $6850 to Union Pacific Railroad, where it became an officers’ car while building the Transcontinental Railroad. After being displayed at the Worlds Fair in 1904, a grass fire destroyed the train car at Minneapolis in 1911.

One of the main purposes of this excursion was to help young people learn about history. Many local schools took advantage of this unique educational stop in Dover, Ohio to give their students a close look at an oft told story in United States history.

Lincoln would have been pleased as he felt education very important. When speaking to a university he remarked, “A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. It is the key, or one of the keys, to the already solved problems. And not only so. It gives a relish and facility for successfully pursuing the yet unsolved ones.”

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