How a scrapbook helped an illiterate politician

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) An old ledger turned into a scrapbook is still around more than 100 year’s after its owner’s death. It tells the story of a first generation German- American, illiterate butcher, city councilman and state legislator. His name was Peter Kiser.

Kiser was one of the first German- Americans to settle in the area that would be known as Fort Wayne. He lived from 1810- 1890, and during that time, he acquired the ledger book he re-purposed into his personal scrapbook.

Kiser never learned to read or write, but that didn’t stop him from being involved in politics.

“He kept this scrapbook with him throughout his life and used it as a way to express his political beliefs,” History Center’s Executive Director Todd Pelfrey explained as he shared the artifact on NewsChannel 15’s First News Saturday. He kept his scrapbook with him everywhere, including his butcher shop, and would use it to produce the source of information that supported his views.

In his scrapbook, the staunch Democrat included clippings highlighting Andrew Johnson’s impeachment proceedings, stamps and cigar stickers, currency and part of a flag given to Andrew Jackson.

Kiser’s scrapbook is one of many artifacts being featured in March as part of this History Center’s bicentennial celebration. The historical society is putting 200 artifacts on display throughout the year, highlighting different themes each month. The latest exhibit is titled ‘Peopling the Community.’ It features artifacts from people groups, ethnicities and nationalities that called Fort Wayne home throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

At that time, about 30 percent of Fort Wayne’s residents had some German ancestry, making Kiser’s scrapbook a perfect example of one of the people who influenced our community.

To learn more about this artifact visit the History Center in downtown Fort Wayne or check out its virtual exhibit. The ‘Peopling the Community’ exhibit can be seen all through March as part of the History Center’s Bicentennial Legacy Project. Pelfrey previously brought in a cider flask attributed to John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed, a portable writing desk that belonged to Samuel Hanna, the city’s first postmaster and a musket and bayonet used in the Battle of Kekionga in 1790.

________________________________________The History Center is located at 302 East Berry Street in downtown Fort Wayne. It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday (and the first Sunday of the month). Admission: $6 per adult (ages 18 to 64), $4 per senior (age 65+) or youth (ages 3 to 17), free for children age 2 and under.

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