Another unique item, with an interesting tale, in the BHHA Collection is Helena’s Prism. It all began during a June 2011 interview with Richard Andersen, Bishop Hill Colonist Jacob Jacobson descendant. At one point in the interview, Richard asked about an item that might have possibly been in a large collection given to the Bishop Hill State Museum several years ago. He described the item as a small glass prism with a unique story handed down in the Jacobson family. Bishop Hill Colonist Helena Jacobson had treasured this glass prism that she had removed from a chandelier as a last memento from her homeland of Sweden on this journey to the unknown land of America and to Bishop Hill. Richard received the sad reply that a glass prism was not in the collection.
Richard Andersen’s life on earth came to an end in mid-July 2012. According to his wishes, his ashes were brought to Bishop Hill to be interred close to other Jacobson relatives. As Richard’s wife, Barbara, was leaving Bishop Hill that day, she stopped by the Steeple Building museum to donate some Jacobson photos, a cradle, and a small red velvet box. Mrs. Anderson was uncertain what the box contained but thought the museum should have it.
After Barbara left, the velvet box was opened. Inside were various papers and small objects. One small folded paper was gently opened. It read “Pendent was only keepsake Helena took from Valla when she left there in 1846.” Below that note was the glass prism that Richard had been searching for and that is now in the BHHA’s Collection today!