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Thief steals Winsted antique saved for McLeod museum

August 11, 2008

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

After a thief stole a Winsted Roller Mills “1876” antique ornament from Bernie Stifter Libor’s garage during Memorial Day weekend, Libor felt a need to put a lock on the door. The antique had been kept there for 45 years. To see a drawing of the stolen item, click here.

“I never ever locked my garage all of those years. No one ever bothered anything,” Libor said. “I called the police as soon as it was missing, and filed a report.”

The heavy, black iron ornament was approximately two to two-and-a-half feet wide, 15 to 20 inches high and about a quarter of an inch thick.

Libor is asking for everyone’s help in finding the antique. She is hoping that if someone has seen the antique they will call the Winsted police.

The 1876 antique had been given to Bernie and her husband, Lawrence, by Rufo Vollmer, their next door neighbor, when he moved to the nursing home.

Vollmer was one of Felton Vollmer’s three sons. Felton had owned the Winsted Roller Mills from 1871 to 1916. In addition, Felton had been the bank president and town mayor for 20 years.

The mill, which started in 1866, provided cut lumber for the settlers and village for construction of homes and other buildings.

Bernie said she thought the Vollmer family had retrieved the antique when the mill burned to the ground in about 1920.

The metal antique looked like something that might have been attached to one of the buildings, possibly over one of the doors of the mill, Bernie said.

It had always been Bernie’s intention to donate the iron Winsted Roller Mills 1876 antique to a museum along with numerous other Winsted history items she had received from Rufo.

She was hanging on to it, hoping Winsted would have its own museum some day, but if not, she would have eventually brought the antiques to the McLeod County Heritage Center in Hutchinson.

“I hope if someone sees it they will say something. It would be so good to have it back. Nobody should have that. It should be part of our history,” Libor said.

“It shouldn’t be sold. I could have sold it a long time ago,” Libor said. “It was black, but I think that was from the fire at the mill. But I don’t know,” Libor said.

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