About the Bates County Historical Society and Museum
The Bates County Historical Society & Museum was founded in 1961 and is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 corporation. Celebrating over fifty years of preserving the history of Bates County, the Society & Museum has become known as A Beacon of Culture throughout the county. Citizens have long recognized the importance of Preserving Our History and Sustaining Our Heritage and the collections held by the Museum are some of the finest in the region.
The earliest organization formed to preserve the county's history was the Old Settler's Society. The first meeting was held in 1897 and founding members had to have lived in Bates County for at least twenty-five years. The original minute book and some early artifacts are on display at the Museum. The Old Settler's Society continues to meet annually and hosts a special program each August to commemorate the early pioneer families who settled this land. A strong bond of friendship and partnership exists between both Societies.
Recognizing the need for a Museum, in the early 1960s the Society's Board approached the County Commissioners about purchasing the old 1894 Bates County Jail & Sheriff's Residence. The building was vacant and the Commissioners sold the property to the Society for the grand sum of $1.00. The Museum was housed in the old jail until 2006 when the final move was made to its current location. The Bates County Museum is now housed in the old County Poor Farm which was built in 1915. The Society purchased the property in 2000 and spent six years rennovating the building. Additional land was purchased and today the Museum sits on thirty-four acres of land. In 2011, the Society 'sold' the old Jail & Sheriff's Residence to the Bates County Sheriff's Posse for a whopping $2.00, which was double what the Society had originally paid! The Posse plans to restore the old jail and open a Bates County Law Enforcement Museum.
In 2006, two old school buildings were moved to the Museum grounds. The Nyhart School, built in 1901, is being fully restored and the outside restoration is nearing completion. Nyhart was a community about 7-8 miles southwest of Butler and there is a Nyhart Alumni group that continues to meet each year and collect donations to aid in the restoration. The Alpha Delta Kappa Sororiety has adopted the old school and volunteers help maintain the building. The second building is the Wilcox School. When restored, this building will be converted into a "Little Country Church." Although a new roof was installed in 2012, the restoration of the Wilcox School has not yet begun.
Future plans call for the building of a barn on the Museum grounds so the numerous artifacts not yet displayed will have a new home. The Museum has countless agricultural artifacts, a full blacksmith shop along with a cobbler's shop, the original printing presses for The Rich Hill Mining Review newspaper, buggy's, wagons, and an incredible assortment of various other artifacts that can only be displayed in a barn.