Kids do the strangest things. Like starting a collection that ends up being a lifelong passion that turns into the largest military museum in the country. Just ask Jim Osbourne, an Indiana resident, and lifelong military memorabilia collector.
Normally, a military museum’s collection has a variety of sources, but the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, Indiana has a different story. All of its artifacts come from Jim’s personal collection. Osbourne has been passionately collecting military items since the ripe old age of seven. His extensive personal collection might be the largest that exists. Jim estimates his museum contains between 100,000 and 200,000 pieces!
One piece soon grew into many
Seven-year-old Osbourne’s first military artifact came as a gift from his father: a Civil War musket. Shortly after, he saw his neighbor, a World War II veteran, taking some of his WWII memorabilia to the trash. Jim saw his chance and asked to have them. Of course, the old Soldier said yes. After all, what was he going to do with a bunch of unit awards and coins?
And so began Osbourne’s Military collection. Because this all took place right after World War II, it wasn’t hard for him to find other items to keep adding to his collection base. Veterans were readily giving their stuff away. One of Osbourne’s personal favorites is President Eisenhower’s full-dress uniform from when he served in World War II.
Who would have thought Indiana was hiding all this?
Other amazing items from the collection at the Indiana Military Museum are even older. For instance, there is a handmade coverlet knitted by Elizabeth Custer, General Custer’s wife, for a friend of the family and fellow veteran Major Peter Boehm. Boehm rode alongside Custer in the Civil War, and his Medal of Honor is on display at the museum.
And the Custer-related memorabilia doesn’t end there. Items of Private Jacob Adams, a survivor of the Battle of Little Bighorn (or Custer’s Last Stand), are also showcased at the museum. Both the grandson of Boehm and Adams himself lived in Vincennes, thus explaining how those items reached Osbourne.
Even more notable artifacts at the Indiana Military Museum include some larger items which you wouldn’t be able to miss even if you tried: a JEEP and a half-track from World War II, tanks, aircraft, and even a Cold War submarine.
This military museum will impress anybody
Not only does the Indiana Military Museum house and preserve one of the most comprehensive collections of military artifacts in the country, its exhibits are not too shabby either. A prime example is a display made to look like a life-sized, bombed-out Normandy church. You’d be hard-pressed not to be impressed by that.
Providing these authentic touches to the museum help to tell the story of US Military history. That way, visitors will be more inclined to learn and appreciate the significance of the events that occurred. Thanks to Osbourne’s dedication, the Indiana Military Museum is an absolute must for any and all history and Military buffs.