Andy the Painted Turtle

Any home as old as the Prospect House (1882) will have unexplained stories in it. Recently Jay Johnson discovered an answer for one question.

In his own words, “I don’t remember where I found Andy – in a box of stuff, I suppose. It looked like a toy turtle with a painted flower and the name ‘Andy’ painted on its back. But… it was a real turtle! The head was still hiding under the hood of the shell. What in the world is the story behind this odd piece of family trivia? Where did it come from? Why the fancy paint job? Why, oh why, did the family keep a dead turtle?

The answer goes back to 1933. Ernest and Kathryn (Cap’s daughter) Wilkins went to Chicago to visit relatives and to go to the World’s Fair. They brought their two children, Kay (age 11) and Jim, who just graduated from high school. The children bought a number of souvenirs at the Fair. Kay bought Andy. She put it in a box with some food and sent it on the train to her grandfather – Cap Colehour – in Battle Lake, MN in hopes that he would care for it till she got home. Andy probably passed away in shipment or shortly thereafter. He didn’t grow much. He did , however, dry out very nicely. And, of course, the family kept it and added another memory to the extensive collection in the Prospect House.”