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2011-02-01 issue:

Bomb scare at MC USA Archives

by Everett J. Thomas

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The Elkhart (Ind.) Police Departments bomb squad was called to the Goshen (Ind.) College campus at 9:10 a.m. today to remove two large caliber shells, a grenade and a small aerial bomb.

Elkhart police Sgt. Scott Claybaugh removes a cardboard box containing a World War I grenade, shells and a small aerial bomb from the Mennonite Church USA Archives. Photo by Chad Weaver/The Goshen News.

Archivist Colleen McFarland found the World War I ordnance in a box in the Mennonite Church USA Archives on the Goshen College campus. Rich Preheim, director for the Mennonite Church USA Historical Committee and Archives, called the Elkhart Police Department to dispose of the explosives.

"The ordnance ... was part of a collection from a Mennonite reconstruction unit in France after World War I," Preheim said. According to Preheim, the collection was given to the Archives by George Springer, but the Archives staff had no other information about Springer.

"We received the collection about 20 years ago, before any current staff worked here," Preheim said. "That sort of thing does not generate a lot of interest from researchers. Colleen was going through some collections to eliminate things for space needs and found [the collection]."

According to a report from the Goshen Police Department, all the items were inert and had no possibility of exploding.

Newcomer Center, on the college campus, was evacuated for 90 minutes as the ordnance was removed. No one was injured. The building in which the Archives is located on the Goshen College campus belongs to Mennonite Church USA. It was given to the former Mennonite Church when Goshen Biblical Seminary moved to Elkhart in the 1960s and became part of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries.

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