By Frankie Meyer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Barry County Museum at Cassville is a vibrant showcase of history for Southwest Missouri. Staff members skillfully display many artifacts, and they also organize numerous events that involve local families and businesses.
Because of their efforts, the museum is an extraordinary source of information for researchers of families who lived in Southwest Missouri.
Some artifacts are displayed in the large, up-to-date building, while most farm machinery is displayed in an outdoor, covered area. Two buildings have been moved to the site, where they are being restored.
One is the Black Schoolhouse, which was one of 112 rural schools in the county. Another building is a log house once located on Greasy Creek in Washburn. Jim and Mattie (Walker) Edens raised their family in the home.
One of the halls at the museum is dedicated to those who have served in the military.
Realizing that visitors enjoy learning and seeing something new, the staff periodically rotates displays. Some displays that I particularly enjoy are about the Civilian Conservation Corps, Roaring River, quilting and weaving. A large meeting room is available for local groups to use.
The museum also has a bookstore where books about local history are sold. Among those are 17 volumes titled “Lifetime of Memories.” Each volume includes interviews of local men and women who have made the county their home.
So far, 86 people have been interviewed. The books, which cost $9.95, describe county history through the eyes of the settlers. As each volume is published, a book signing is held for the local men and women who were interviewed.
Another extraordinary resource at the museum is the Fields’ Photo Archives, which includes more than a million negatives of photos taken over a period of 65 years by ma and pa Fields, their son, Max, and his wife, Margie.
Those photos, which include people, businesses and schools from many counties in Southwest Missouri, have been indexed and can be viewed. Copies can be purchased at an inexpensive price.
Thanks to the efforts of two volunteers, the museum also has a large set of files on the county’s rural schools. Those, too, are open to families and researchers.
Staff members realize that a successful museum needs a dynamic website, and they certainly have one. The website is www.barrycomuseum.org.
My favorite part of the site is the “Documents” section, which has scanned copies of dozens of items such as newspaper articles, yearbooks, city directories and phone books. A few of the topics are folk lore, railroads, agriculture, schools, sports, the Civilian Conservation Corps, maps and Roaring River.
Because the museum is along the route to Roaring River, plan a visit as you drive to the state park to enjoy the fall colors.
The museum is at the south edge of Cassville at 15858 State Highway 76. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 417-847-1640 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suggestions or queries? Write Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168, or email email@example.com.