Nels Johnson

One of the most popular artifacts in the museum is the 1850’s sailing ship that greets visitors into the gallery. For many years, the wooden model could be found on the Mueller Lodge piano, but over time the ship’s story, including its maker, had been lost to legend.

At one time, it was supposed that Hieronymus himself might have built it. However, in 2018, the mystery was solved! According to an article published by the Decatur Herald on June 6, 1926, the ship model was built by Nels A. Johnson. Johnson was the first engineer for the Mueller factory, hired by Hieronymus in 1882, and he worked for the company for 29 years. Born in Sweden, Johnson spent his early life as a ship builder, and in 1901 he created the model ship based on the last ship he sailed, the “Uglam.” This information comes from an interview with Frank O. Zetterlind, Johnson’s son-in-law. The Zetterlind family is frequently found in the Mueller records, as so many went on to have full careers at Mueller company.

Johnson and the Zetterlind family clearly meant a lot to the Mueller Co. Upon his death in 1912, Philip, Adolph, and Robert Mueller were pallbearers for Nels Johnson. And in 1925, the Mueller Co. gifted a two-month trip for Frank Zetterlind to revisit Sweden, the land of his birth.

Your Invitation

The Hieronymous Mueller Museum is proud to display numerous exhibits and memorabilia from the Company’s history. We invite you to visit this incredible collection at your earliest convenience.

The museum’s address is 420 West Eldorado Street in Decatur, IL. We’re open to the public on Tuesday through Saturday (except holidays) from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. You can also schedule a visit by calling 217-423-6161. Admission is $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for those under 17 years of age.

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