The Cleaver family recently donated this antique pump organ to the Chase County Museum. The organ has been a family legacy passed down through three generations. Pictured, from left, are Historical Society members Charley Colton, Becky Carman and Jeannine Cox. (Johnson Publications photo)

Family donates antique pump organ to museum

    The story of this family antique pump organ began in 1930 when it was purchased for $8 for the cost of hauling it off.
    Maitee Yaw Cleaver rescued the organ, and it became a family legacy to be passed down and treasured for decades.
    Now, it’s found a new home in the Chase County Museum in Champion.
    Maitee Yaw was born to Mary Lucina and Milton Henry Yaw in 1890 in a dugout in Champion Valley. She was the oldest of seven sisters and one brother.
    Milton owned the Champion Mill, but passed away when Maitee was a teenager. She then inherited the mill from her father.
    While she owned the mill, she also taught kindergarten through eighth grade in a one-room schoolhouse in the Champion area.
    In the early 1920s, Yaw traded the mill for farmland near Venango where she married her hired man, Edgar Melvin Cleaver.
    The Cleavers had one child, Ed, born in 1926.
    The organ remained in the Cleaver family on the farm until the late 60s when they moved to North Platte.
    Over the next few years, the organ moved with the Cleavers to Greeley, Colorado and then to Waco, Texas.
    Their son, Ed, eventually became a medical doctor, and he and his wife Jean took possession of the organ in 1972.
    Though in good condition, the organ was a bit of an ugly duckling, being coated in a thick black varnish.
    Jean Cleaver undertook the painstaking project of stripping the black varnish from the entire organ.
    Cleaver turned the organ into a swan by giving it a simple oil-rubbed finish.
    After all the years of moving the organ from place to place, the only damage was to a decorative lattice on one side.

 

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