If you love local history are looking for an interesting, nearby trip, consider a visit to the museum at Pineville. The town is located in McDonald County, the only one by that name in our country. It is named after Alexander McDonald, a Revolutionary soldier and congressman.

The museum is located in a two-story, brick courthouse that was built in 1871 and served the county until 1978, when a new courthouse was built two blocks away. A stucco exterior was added in the early 1900s. The old courthouse is in the center of the square. An older log courthouse is located two blocks to the north. To the east, a pristine creek flows along the edge of town. A larger, equally pristine waterway flows along the town’s south edge.

In 2010, the McDonald County Historical Society began efforts to restore the courthouse for use as a museum.

As part of that effort, research was completed on its history, and the building was placed on the Registry of Historical Places.

Before starting restoration, the society consulted experts in preservation. Following those suggestions and guidelines, members of the society and others throughout the county have held numerous fundraisers to obtain funds to restore the rooms and add displays about the county’s history.

They have succeeded. Among the many restored rooms at the museum are a jail cell, large courtroom and prosecutor’s office. Examples of some displays are early music, one-room schools, the strawberry industry, people who have served in the military and the filming of the Jesse James movie.

One room serves as an emporium where books, calendars and other items related to the county history can be purchased. Several of the books have been compiled by James Reed.

Reed inherited a massive collection of old newspapers published by his great-grandfather Claiborne Duval between 1883-1942. Originally known as the Pineville News, the newspaper later became the Pineville Herald. Reed’s collection has the only surviving issues of the newspaper.

For several years, he has been going through the fragile issues and compiling information, which he publishes. Some books are yearly histories of the county, and some are about specific families. His latest series is about towns. So far, he has compiled books about Rocky Comfort, White Rock, Noel, Indian Springs, McNatt, Goodman, Powell and Cyclone.

The historic courthouse is open on Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from June through December.

Tours are given at other times by request. For more information, call 417-223-7700 or email mcdonaldcohistory@olemac.net. The society’s website is mcdonaldcohistory.org.

To contact Reed, email claibornecastle@hotmail.com or call 417-435-2241.

Comments or suggestions? Contact Frankie Meyer: frankiemeyer@yahoo.com.

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