Barry County, Mo., is home to a unique, local museum
CASSVILLE, MO. – The Barry County Museum is nestled among the hills and streams of Southwest Missouri in Cassville, not far from Roaring River State Park along Highway 76. The drive to this part of the state is enjoyably picturesque. The museum hosts the yearly District 7 Public School Art Show in the spring and also hosts the Cassville Cruisers, an antique auto club the second Saturday of every month.
The Barry County Museum was created to preserve the rich heritage of this area for future generations. The museum opened in 2007, and public interest and support has been even greater than anticipated.
The museum contains displays from past eras of life in the area throughout the decades including frontier America, Native American life, the roaring 20s, the Civil War, Vietnam and the two world wars.
One thing that mesmerizes youngsters are the adding machines. In today’s highly technical world young people are astounded the machines have so many buttons and work without electricity.
Sports fans will be interested to view photos and memorabilia of the All-American Redheads professional basketball team. It was started in Cassville in 1936 by Ole Olson. In 2021, the team was enshrined at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
There are displays documenting the Trail of Tears, which passed through Barry County. It includes a display of dress worn by Native Americans. There is also an extensive collection of arrowheads and other native implements.
One of the greatest treasures at the museum is its director Kathy White. She has lived in the Cassville area for more than 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge about everything in the museum and its other buildings.
Kathy leads tours of the museum and property, including the one-room schoolhouse, the Eden log home and the barn.
Kathy’s tour also includes local history lessons, such as there being 10,000 one-room school houses in Missouri at one time, with more than 112 of those being in Barry County alone,.The school on the premises, called the Black School, was donated by the Black family to the community and eventually to the museum for preservation.
It contains not only desks and the potbellied stove, but photo albums of past classes. Kathy’s description and stories of what school and teachers were like back then and was a treasure.
In the Eden cabin, Kathy explained how the family with a dozen children lived in the two-story, two-room cabin.
The “barn” housed vintage farm equipment, a Farmall tractor and a Springfield covered wagon, which became one of the pioneer transportation industries of the trans-Mississippi West.
Also displayed is a broom-making station, a corn sheller, antique printing equipment, a 1928 Model A Ford and more.
The main building of the museum also houses the extensive Fields’ Photo Archive. More than a million negatives from the Fields’ Photo Shop are stored at the museum. Ma and Pa Fields, as well as their son Max and daughter-in-law Margie, were photographers in the Cassville area for more than 60 years.
Several books about the history of the area are available for sale at the museum.
The museum has a web presence at barrycomuseum.org and can also be found on Facebook.