Monroe County Historical Society & Museum

Monroe County Historical Society & Museum Monroe Co. Historical Society is preserving our county history, & maintains a Museum - open Saturda

The Monroe County Historical Society was formed in 1959 when a passionate group of people discussed the importance of preserving our country history. They not only maintain our Historical Museum, the Kendall Place, Buxton - a once thriving coal mining town but are also home to the Genealogy group. There are many other historic exhibits showing the many changes our county has seen!


On June 25 the Monroe County Historical Museum will host a bus tour to sites in the western part of the county including Bucknell, Consol, Haydock, and Hiteman. The bus tour will be part of the celebration of the museum's 40th anniversary--and will include celebratory cupcakes.

To register for the bus tour will leave from the museum at 1:30 p.m. on June 25. To reserve your seat on the bus, visit the museum during our open hours or leave a voice message at 641-932-7046.


The Monroe County Historical Society's Museum will open for our regular 2023 season on Saturday, May 6. We'll be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. from May through October.

In addition, we will be open for the Albia Chamber/Main Street celebrations of First Friday from 5 until 6:30 on the first Friday of each month. Please see the Albia Chamber Main Street ewebsite for additional activities. Come and enjoy. We look forward to seeing you at the museum.


At our recent museum board meeting we reviewed the state of the museum in the aftermath of our "flood." The Alumni Room has been basically emptied and the items usually there are in various places in the museum. Because of the possible trip hazards and because some of the exhibits are difficult to view, we decided to end our season but to remain available for tours when we can control access to parts of the building. Therefore, the museum will be closed through the end of the October (and November and most of December as usual). We plan to open for the Albia Victorian Stroll on December 3rd with hours of 4-7 p.m., and we'll again have the miniature Christmas trees decorated by the students at Grant School. We also plan to open for the 2023 season of May through October. We hope to see you again soon.


You may have heard that on September 17 Monroe County had between 3 and 6 inches (depending on who was reporting and from where). Unfortunately, much of that rain pooled on the museum roof due to a blocked drain. It is estimated that about 10,000 gallons of water gathered on the roof, found some weak places, and poured through the roof and ceiling into the Alumni Room and the exhibit room just north of that.
As you may imagine, we are in the process of meeting with an adjustor and getting an estimate for roof and ceiling repair. Luckily, a group of volunteers showed up that Monday to help with clean-up, worked to dry out some of the yearbooks that got wet, and moved some of the exhibits out of the affected area. We think we may have lost about three photographs and a news article but that other exhibits are okay.
Savings accounts have been set up at First Iowa State Bank and Peoples State Bank to help with the new roof and to help with cleanup.
After we meet with the adjustor, we’ll make a decision about staying open through October. As always, we’re happy to make appointments for tours even if we close for weekends.


The Albia Restoration Days Committee has announced that Rachelle Chase, author of two books about Buxton including Creating the Black Utopia of Buxton, Iowa, will speak about Buxton at the King Opera House in Albia in Saturday of Restoration Days (this Saturday) at 2 p.m. We haven't heard yet if there is a cost.


We are delighted to announce that we will have a bus tour on Sunday, August 7, beginning at 1:30 p.m. and leaving from the museum. The tour will travel past the Sheriff mine site, the Osborn cemetery, and the Fraker mine site with stops at the Buxton town site and another at the Buxton cemetery (if weather permits). Monroe County was a major coal producer in the late 1800s and early 1900s with more than 200 mines.

Buxton is nationally known as a town where black and white miners were treated equally in working conditions, housing, and educational opportunities. Several prominent personages called Buxton home. Tom Woodard, museum board member, and Jim Keegel, owner of the town site property, will give commentary for the tour. Please reserve your seat for the bus tour by leaving a message on our page, by leaving a clear message on the museum answering machine at 641-932-7046, or by coming to the museum during our open hours, 1-4 on Saturdays and Sundays May through October.

In addition, the museum will be open during extended hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on August 6, Restoration Days Saturday.


We have new history--or history news--with upcoming events we'd like to share.

On December 2, 1950, Corporal Kenneth E. Ford, a young man from Hocking, Iowa, Monroe County, was reported missing in action near Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. On December 31, 1953, he was declared dead. In 2018 some remains were returned to the United States, and in 2010 it was determined that Cpl. Ford's remains were among those.

ARRIVAL IN IOWA: On Friday, June 17, his remains are scheduled to arrive at Des Moines International Airport and will then be brought to Tharp Funeral Home in Albia. The plane should arrive about 4 p.m., and it is estimated that arrival in Albia will be about 6:15. The procession will make a loop around the square before heading to the funeral home.

MEMORIAL AND PROCESSION: A memorial service will be held at Tharp Funeral Home on Wednesday, June 22, at 1:00 p.m. Following the service, the funeral procession will travel west on Benton Avenue/old highway 34 [sorry, had the wrong old highway earlier] to the Catholic Cemetery and then south to Highway 34. From there it will pass the Welcome Home Soldier Monument, through town on Highway 5, and then on Highway 137 out to Pleasant Corners Cemetery. Hand-held U.S. flags are available from the Office of Veterans' Affairs and from Tharp Funeral Home to those who wish to wave them in his honor.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: Volunteers are needed to place the 500 American flags along the route. If you can help, meet at Tharp Funeral Home on Tuesday, June 21, at 4 to place the flags and then again on Thursday, June 23, to take down the flags.

We hope many can find the time to honor the life of this young man and the service in which he gave his all. Meeting him on the square on Friday, helping to erect and take down the flags on June 21 and 23, and lining the funeral procession route on June 22 will all show our appreciation and to welcome him home.


Ready, set, ------------
The Monroe County Historical Museum will open for the 2022 season on Saturday, April 30th.
Our regular hours are 1-4 on Saturdays and Sundays from May through October.
See you soon.


We hope you had the chance to see the KYOU-TV program "Remembering Buxton." We think they did an excellent job of telling the story.

If you didn't see it, we should soon have the link when KYOU puts it on their web page.

In addition, we learned today that KCRG-TV will broadcast the program on March 6 at 10:30 a.m. If that's your viewing area, there will be that opportunity.


Tomorrow is the day for the Buxton program--11:30 a.m. on KYOU television. Learn and enjoy!


The Monroe County Historical Society Museum is happy to co-sponsor a KYOU television program about Buxton, Iowa. This half-hour program will air on KYOU on Sunday, February 20, at 11:30 a.m. just before the pre-race show before the Daytona 500.
Buxton was a coal-mining town in northern Monroe County from 1900 till the mid-1900s. The town’s population of approximately 6000 people was 55% black Americans, and the town is nationally known as an integrated town with working conditions and living conditions not determined by skin color. The program will explore the establishment of the town, its growth and demise, life in Buxton, and differences between Buxton and other coal towns,
KYOU broadcasts in the Ottumwa/Kirksville area. Plans are in motion to add the program to the KYOU website after its initial airing.
We are happy to co-sponsor this program as a way to share and promote the history of Monroe County.


Robin Pardus (identifier Robin and Jerry Pardus) has posted some pictures on her page and asked for help in identifying any of the people in them. Robin inherited these from her grandmother who was Pearl Peterson and married Jim Smead. The family lived most of the time in Albia and Hiteman. Check out her interesting photos, and if you can identify any of them contact Robin on her page. Thanks.


Thanks to the Albia wrestlers for cleaning our schoolhouse as a service project. They did a great job! See the picture on their page.


The museum opens Saturday, June 5. Our normal hours are 1-4 on Saturdays and Sundays from May through October. Hope to see you there.


Each year the students at Grant School decorate miniature Christmas trees that are displayed at the museum during Victorian Stroll. Since the museum is still closed for the rest of this year, we've made a change. The students have decorated their trees (they're wonderful!), and this year they are displayed in a window at Fiber Art Shoppe on the north side of the Square. Many thanks to Sherri Duey for giving the space for the students' trees. Be sure to see them when you're in town.


Tomorrow (Thursday) the Stroll committee's annual fundraiser supper will be held as a drive-up event at the Albia Area Chamber. The meal is ham balls, green beans, roll, cheesy potatoes, and a slice of pie (cherry, pumpkin, or apple). Call the Chamber at 641-932-5108 to order your dinner(s) and choose your time for pick-up. Then, at your determined time, drive to either front or back door of the Chamber for delivery to your car. Cost is $10.

Thanks for supporting the Stroll Committee as we celebrate this delightful season.


Although we were looking forward to opening the museum this weekend, we're going to delay a little longer. With the recent rise in covid cases we thought it was more prudent to wait a while. We're "hopin' to open" soon.


It was decided at today's board meeting that the museum will open--tentatively--on the weekend of July 4-5 for our 2020 season. Hope to see you there.


At today's board meeting it was decided--tentatively--that the museum will open the weekend of July 4-5 for the 2020 season. Hope to see you then.


Join us at the museum on Wednesday, May 22, for the Albia Chamber of Commerce's monthly Community Coffee. Debi Reed, RSVP director, and the museum board are hosting as an RSVP volunteer site. We hope to see YOU there.


We and the photos didn't coordinate very well. We'll just have to enjoy some of them more than once.


We were delighted to host the 4th grade classes from Lincoln Center this week. They were very well behaved, and we hope they now have more information about the history of Kish-ke-kock/Monroe County.


The museum opens for the season this weekend. We're open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. now through October. See you there!


Check out the miniature Christmas trees we had at the museum this weekend by checking the Albia Victorian Stroll page.


On Saturday, September 22, we'll be privileged to hear a presentation about Walt O'Connor (team captain) and the 1937 Melrose Shamrock state championship basketball team. At that time there was only one class for the state tournament, and Melrose won it all! In fact, they went 33-0 that year.

Join us Saturday, Sept. 22, at 1:30 for this presentation by Walt's family. See you there!


The museum is open this Saturday during Rodders' weekend. We welcome all those who want to visit in addition to seeing the cars, motorcycles, trucks, and tractors displayed on the square.


This Saturday, June 16, is the annual museum crawl for the Scenic Byways--Historic Hills summer. Four museums, Monroe County Historical Society Museum in Albia, Wabash Depot Museum Complex in Moravia, Appanoose County Historical & Coal Mining Museum in Centerville, and the Moulton Historical Museum were chosen to be part of this year's tour. Each of the museums will be open from 9 to 4 on Saturday with activities going on in each one. Those who visit all four museums will have their passports marked and will be entered into a drawing for prizes.

In Albia Carolyn McAlister and Karen Henderson will demonstrate weaving rugs on our loom. At 1:15 Bill Huber, Albia's celebrated champion calf-roper, will talk about his rodeo experiences.

Saturday is also the Albia Area Chamber of Commerce's annual rodeo, so we hope some of the rodeo competitors and fans will join us at the museum.

We hope to see you there!


Also today we have the privilege of hearing Tom Milligan speak about Ding Darling. Ding won a Pulitzer prize for his editorial cartoons while he worked for the Des Moines Register and Tribune. There's also a Monroe County c***ection. Come hear him speak at 2:00 today at the museum.


It's open house weekend! Please join us today or tomorrow at the Monroe County Museum to see our wonderful and huge collection during this open house. We have trains, coal mining information, pictures of graduating classes dating back to the 1800s, military uniforms and info, a beautiful altar hanging, a canon from the Civil War, antique wedding dresses, a country school, a horse-drawn hearse (without the horse), the fountain from Hess Drug Store, the Dale Brothers gas station, and so much more. Also enjoy cake, ice cream, and fellowship.

Beginning today we're open from 1-4 on Saturdays and Sundays from May to October. Admission, as always, is free.

See you there


Please join us Saturday or Sunday, May 5 or May 6, --or both--for our open house. We're celebrating the 35th anniversary of the opening of the Monroe County Museum. Yep, 1983!

If you've visited lately, we want to welcome you back. If you haven't been here for a while, or never, we encourage you to come. We think you'll be pleasantly surprised by our collection.

In addition to the open house, Tom Milligan will be here on Saturday, May 5, at 2 o'clock to talk about Ding Darling. Ding was a Pulitzer Prize winner who drew political cartoons for the Des Moines Register and drew the first ever Duck Stamp for that federal program. There's an Albia c***ection--but we'll let you come discover that.

We hope to see you this weekend at the Museum.


Opening weekend is May 5 & 6 from 1 to 4 pm. Join us for ice cream and cake as we celebrate our 35th year at the Museum!


Stop by the museum this afternoon we are open until 4pm. Every Saturday & Sunday from 1-4 pm you can walk through our Monroe County history.


OPENING WEEKEND at the Museum stop in and say hi, take a look around at some of our new displays and some changes we have made. We are open every weekend beginning today on Saturday & Sunday 1-4 pm!

Don't let our Volunteer Staff get lonely today!


Open weekend at the Museum is coming up, stop by this Saturday, May 6 or Sunday, May 7 from 1-4 pm. We have some new items and have moved some items around for better viewing. Stop by and say hi to our volunteers! Consider getting involved in your Monroe County history, join the Monroe County Historical Society - ask for info when you visit us.


Join us this Saturday, April 22 for Clean-up Day at the Museum, join us around 9 am! We can use many volunteers to make the work go fast, this is in preparation for our opening day on May 6th.


The Monroe County Historical Society invites you to become a member! Membership is $20/year for a family or $10/year for an individual. Please join us and help us keep Monroe County history available to everyone. We also invite you to be an active member, we are always in need of new volunteers to help with special projects, serve on the board, help us staff the museum on weekends from May through October. Mail in a note stating you want to become a member with your name(s) address, phone, email and your check today. Mail to MCHS at 114 A Avenue E Albia, IA 52531 Thank you!


JOIN US between 4-8 pm for the Victorian Stroll in Albia - the Museum will be open and have on display Christmas Trees decorated by students from Grant School.

Stop in and give a penny vote for your favorite tree! Al;l proceeds go to the classes who decorated the trees. Enjoy a walk through Monroe County History, enjoy something warm to drink and homemade cookies. Stop in and say hello to our volunteers.


114 A Avenue E
Albia, IA


(641) 932-7046



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