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Darwin Linn


      In July, 2011, the paranormal world lost a great friend. Darwin Linn is probably best known as the owner of the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa. The scene of the grisly 1912 murders, this house stood vacant for many years and was on the verge of being condemned when it was purchased by Darwin and his wife Martha.  Darwin believed that, as a part of Villisca's history, this house should be saved. In 1994 they started to remodel the home, actually restoring it to the way it looked on that fateful night. Tearing off, rebuilding, and replacing vintage parts was not a cheap endeavor, but in 1998 the house was listed on the National Registry Of Historic Places. All their hard work had paid off. The house was now a permanent part of the history, along with the tales of gore from that night.
     This was not Darwin's first foray into preservation. He and his wife Martha ran a museum in the store that was owned by Mr. Jones, a rival of J. B. Moore. Here he collected artifacts from not only the town but the surrounding county. Lovingly gathered and preserved, stepping into the museum was like walking back in time. A time before cell phones and television. To a time where the light came from a coal oil lamp, and family time was spent talking about the day. Where an outting was generally to an ice cream social or to a church organized activity. Where you knew your neighbors and everyone said hello. Walking amongst the treasures collected here, see the Model A and the Model T cars. Cast your eyes upon the murals on the wall, representing that simplier time. And here you would often find Darwin Linn.
     Darwin generally only knew a stranger until he had time to welcome him to Villisca, than he was your friend. You would often find Darwin giving tours of, not only the museum, but of the cemetery where the Moore family and the Stillinger girls were laid to rest after their brutal attack. Money collected from these tours, as well as the overnight paranormal investigations was put back into the renovation project. His goal was not to be rich, but for the town and county to be rich in its own heritage.
     We are sad at the passing of Darwin, and of the loss of a great supporter of preservation and the paranormal. And we are sorry for the loss of his sister Alice in June of 2011. We will always treasure our time spent in the museum, listening to the history of this small, Iowa town. And maybe, in the future, if we should be lucky enough to return to Villisca, we can convince Darwin to once again talk to us about the history of the town he loved so very much. Rest in peace, our friend.

         Teri had the pleasure to meet Darwin while in town to do an overnight investigation at the Axe Murder House. She found him to be a very nice man, helpful, and knowledgeable of the area.   

The following can be seen in the museum

The way the store used to look
The courthouse gathering

The Jones Store and the museum. Lining the basement of the museum is the history of the area. Events surrounding the murders and the trial, as well as general history of the town can be found in this location.             

Parts of the house Darwin worked hard to restore to original
The Barn
The cemetery where the murdered are buried
Martha Linn talks about the departed
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