Holt County Museum & Research Center -Oregon, MO

Holt County Museum & Research Center -Oregon, MO The Museum/Research Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, displaying, preserving and interpreting artifacts, publications, and photos from county's history, and providing public resources for research on family and county history.



THE GERMANS ARE COMING!THE GERMANS ARE COMING!German-Language Churches in Holt CountyPart 2 The German M.E. church betwe...


German-Language Churches in Holt County
Part 2

The German M.E. church between New Point and Richville (on what is now Route H east of Flaming Spirit Christian Service Camp) was organized in 1880, its congregation made up of former members of the Oregon German M.E. church.

Notable local citizen and Holt County pioneer George Meyer contributed the most funds to finance the construction of the new church’s $1,500, 44’x28’ frame building the next year. It would be named the Emanuel M.E. Church.

At the apparently lively dedication of the new church on Oct. 29, 1881, one of the three reverends present, Rev. Feigenbaum, implored the congregation to pledge money to pay off the new structure – right then and there.

The more than 40 worshipers in attendance, with familiar names like Meyer, Hornecker, Markt, Schulte, Prussman, Fink, Buntz, and Noellsch, generously gave individual donations that ranged in size from $1 to $100. And yet, at the end of the fundraising session, they remained $300 short. The reverend then pulled out his pocketwatch and gave them just 15 minutes to raise the last $300!

After 15 minutes, they still were $39 short. So George Meyer, who already had contributed $100 in the first go-around, threw in the remainder to meet the goal – and to keep the reverend happy, perhaps. (Note: A detailed Holt County Sentinel a few days later disregarded any notion of privacy and listed what amounts were donated by whom)

Although we don’t know exactly when the church finally closed, we think the building was torn down in the 1950s. Perhaps one of our page followers from that neck of the woods can provide more information?

But the old church structure still had a second life coming – and one that also involved worship. The lumber from the demolished church was hauled west down the road, where it was used to build the first chapel at Flaming Spirit Camp.

There were two other churches in the same vicinity, and on the same road, as the Imanuel M.E. Church. They were the Nichols Grove Evangelical Church on the corner of Routes H & O, and a Baptist Church at the corner of Route H & Trinity Road. All three had cemeteries.

Although an early church, the Baptist church didn't survive much past the Civil War because of its Confederate-leaning congregation. A passage in the first of Eileen Derr’s Gone Home books puts it this way:

“Nearly all the people in this church group were strongly Southern in background and interests. Shortly after the Civil War began these people suffered great reverses as they fell from positions of influence, and were barely tolerated if they were allowed to stay in the county.”

By contrast, German immigrants like the ones who later built a church just down the road, were predominantly staunch, anti-slavery Unionists. In fact, the large numbers of German-speaking volunteers who filled the ranks of the Federal army and pro-Union militia in Missouri have been credited with preventing the border state from seceding from the Union.

NOTE: Nichols Grove is also seen spelled “Nickell’s” and “Nickol’s”

THE GERMANS ARE COMING!THE GERMANS ARE COMING!German Language Churches In Holt County - Part 1The first German settlers ...


German Language Churches In
Holt County - Part 1

The first German settlers in Holt County were George and Augustus Borchers. In the summer of 1840 they opened the first store in the county on a farm later owned by pioneer, landowner, and future “49er” gold-seeker George Meyer. The store apparently was about three miles north of Forbes on the west side of what is now Route O.

The Borchers were described as “men of strict integrity, as well as of sterling business capacity,” but their clientele soon was lured away by stores opening in a new, nearby town called Oregon. The men closed their store after two years.

Over the next 40 years, Germans immigrants like the Borchers, immigrants from other German-speaking countries like Switzerland, plus second-generation German-Americans from states back east such as Indiana and Ohio poured into Holt County to purchase farms, establish businesses – and build churches, of course. Germany would come to rival – and probably surpass – the British Isles as the predominant “Old Country” in the family trees of Holt County’s citizens.

The Methodist denomination arrived in the American colonies from England in the 1760s. In 1784, an offshoot called the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in Baltimore. The term “episcopal” refers to the church’s administration by bishops. The denomination grew rapidly and was known for its circuit rider ministers on the nation's frontier.

One of those circuit riders, Rev. Henry Hogrefe, began conducting services in the Oregon home of F.S. Rostock, Sr., in 1847. After three years, the congregation bought a former school near the cemetery to serve as their church building. In 1859, they replaced the old schoolhouse with a new brick building on the same site.

(Note: The former German M.E. church building was used by the Oregon and South Holt High schools for wood and metal shop classes until an addition that included the current gym and new shop facilities was completed in 1970.)

The Oregon German M.E. church flourished until the 1930s, when it disbanded -- signaling the assimilation of former German-speaking residents into their new, English-speaking homeland.

German-speaking churches were common in Holt County during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, especially in the northwest part of the county. Several German Evangelical Lutheran and German Reform churches were located in and around Craig and Corning. Some had associated parochial schools that taught both the German and English languages.

AL FIKE & WOODS SCHOOL 1938-39We once asked a former Woods School student (who shall remain anonymous), "What was it lik...


We once asked a former Woods School student (who shall remain anonymous), "What was it like to have Al for a teacher?"

The answer: "We didn't learn much, but we could put on a heck of a show."



Forbes School Circa 1932

IN MEMORY OF ANITA FINK KURTZThis is a photo of Anita Fink and her Mayflower School pupils during the 1951-52 school yea...


This is a photo of Anita Fink and her Mayflower School pupils during the 1951-52 school year.

Early and ardent supporters like Anita and Wayne Kurtz were instrumental in the creation of the Holt County Museum & Research Center in 2015.

FORTESCUE Fortescue, like many towns born in the 19th Century, owes its existence to the railroad.  In exchange for esta...


Fortescue, like many towns born in the 19th Century, owes its existence to the railroad. In exchange for establishing a depot there, its founding fathers – men with familiar names like Beesley, Minton, Hinkle and Stuart – agreed to donate land for the depot to the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs railroad. They also agreed to pay for grading for the sidetracks. And to sweeten the deal even more, they also threw in all the ties for those tracks.

So it’s not surprising that -- like nearby Napier -- the town wasn’t named in honor of some national hero or Holt County pioneer. It was named by one of the wealthy English shareholders in the railroad -- after his mother! Hopefully, it was her LAST name . . .

A depot with sidetracks in the middle of the Missouri River bottom still was no guarantee that a town would spring up around them. But it was a darn good start in an era when having a railroad run through your town meant everything – like having an interstate highway or major airport nearby today.

Fortescue’s founding date is listed as 1884, but the east-west tracks from the main line at Napier to the Missouri River weren’t laid until the Atchison & Nebraska Railroad built its bridge at Rulo in 1889. So the exact timing of Fortescue’s early days is a bit murky.

But, sure enough, businesses and residences began to go up, as hoped. At first, the stores seemed to disappear as fast as they were built -- three general stores and a hardware store all burned to the ground over the next few years. Eventually the entrepreneurs outpaced the fires and Fortescue continued to grow.

Schools were built, too – first a log building, then a frame school, then a brick structure in 1907. The log school burned in mid-session in 1858, and the rest of the term was conducted in landowner John Haigler’s smoke house! Imagine attending school in a windowless smoke house – truancy would have been justified . . .

The growing Fortescue school district eventually included all or parts of the Walker, Elm Grove, Walnut Grove, and Idlewilde country school districts. In 1915, all these nearby one-room schools consolidated once and for all in Fortescue, and construction of a high school began.

Fortescue also got a bank, a post office, and an elevator along the way. It burned, too, so it was replaced. It even had a Rod & Gun Club. Census data isn’t available before 1920, but Fortescue seems to have reached its high-water mark, population-wise, in 1940, when it boasted 175 residents.

ELDER STATION - 1950sHere is a collection of photos that document the everyday comings and goings at Elder Station east ...


Here is a collection of photos that document the everyday comings and goings at Elder Station east of Oregon in the late 1950s.

Most of the photos were taken by station owner/operator Mozelle Elder. However, Mozelle herself appears in several of them.

We did not take the time to identify the people in the photos. Some are known to us; others are not. If you recognize people you know, please share their names with the rest of us in each photo's "Comments" section.

And, as always, if you want to share your own memories, or point out anything else in the photos that you find interesting, please comment!

Thank you to Nina Elder George who shared her mother Mozelle's wonderful scrapbook from which these photos -- and many other Elder family photos -- came.


If you liked the single photo of Elder Station that we posted yesterday, you're in for a treat.

Stay tuned!

THEN & NOW - Fortescue Grain Elevator 1920sThis is the last of our "Then & Now" photos -- for now.We didn't know how the...

THEN & NOW - Fortescue Grain Elevator 1920s

This is the last of our "Then & Now" photos -- for now.

We didn't know how they would work out, but they seem to be pretty popular.

So, don't worry -- we'll send our roving photographer out on his motorcycle to capture more current versions of historic scenes from the Museum's photo archive!

THEN & NOW - South Side Of Oregon Square, "Roaring Twenties"Apparently Missouri Street on the south side of Oregon's squ...

THEN & NOW - South Side Of Oregon Square, "Roaring Twenties"

Apparently Missouri Street on the south side of Oregon's square was a popular place to park during the 1920's. This photo probably was taken on a Saturday, or during some special event.

As far as we know, there never were any businesses on that side of the square. One structure was listed as a "hotel" around the turn of the 20th Century, but it probably was more of a boarding house.

THEN & NOW - Elder Station

THEN & NOW - Elder Station

THEN & NOW - Fortescue School, 1907

THEN & NOW - Fortescue School, 1907

THEN & NOW - Interurban RailwayThese photos show the spot on Oregon's North Washington Street where the first passenger ...

THEN & NOW - Interurban Railway

These photos show the spot on Oregon's North Washington Street where the first passenger train arrived at the depot there in 1909.

THEN & NOW - Forest City"Then" photo is from a parade circa 1954 when the Atlantic Hotel building was still standing on ...

THEN & NOW - Forest City

"Then" photo is from a parade circa 1954 when the Atlantic Hotel building was still standing on the corner of Commercial & Grand. Marching band is Oregon's.

THEN & NOW - Lentz Store, New Point(Please share your memories!)

THEN & NOW - Lentz Store, New Point

(Please share your memories!)

THERE'S GONNA BE A HANGIN'James Inks -- The Only Man Ever Executed in Holt CountyPart 6 (Final)As James Inks climbed the...


James Inks -- The Only Man Ever Executed in Holt County

Part 6 (Final)

As James Inks climbed the gallows steps, he exclaimed joyously, “Glory be to God. I’m going home!” and voluntarily took his position on the trap door, facing north toward the court house.

Joining him were Sheriff Edwards and his deputies, Rev. Kiplinger, and three other current and former colleagues invited to participate by Edwards: Former Sheriff Lincoln of Andrew County, former Deputy Sheriff Beach of St. Joseph, former Deputy Sheriff Pixler of Nodaway County, and W.H. Collins, current sheriff of Nodaway County.

Rev. Kiplinger offered a brief prayer to those on the scaffold, and to the pale, upturned faces crowded inside the stockade below. When given a chance to offer his last words, Inks read from the Bible: Ezekiel 18:21-29 and Matthew 12:31-32.

Then, no doubt to everyone’s surprise, he kneeled before Sheriff Edwards and asked the sheriff to promise to seek salvation. Edwards replied that he would “try to do right.” The reverend then read from the 23rd Psalm and offered up one last prayer.

Inks returned to his feet, then shook hands with everyone on the gallows. While Deputies Graham and Wickersham gave the straps that bound his wrists and ankles a final check, he said, “Goodbye, I’m going home now, soon to be free, Brother Carr. Goodbye to all of you down there. Goodbye, Jim.” “Carr” and “Jim” were the undertaker J.B. Denny, and W.M. Carr of the Mound City newspaper.

“It was a weird and ghastly scene,” the Sentinel observed. “There was a dimness in the light that gave it appropriateness.”

Former Andrew County sheriff Lincoln place the noose around Inks’ neck and drew it tight. Lincoln knew what he was doing – he had hanged men before. Perhaps that was why he was invited to this “necktie party.” It was said that Lincoln adjusted the noose so it would strangle Inks in the shortest time. He had concluded that Inks’ slight (125 lb.) weight meant that his “large neck,” as it was described, was unlikely to be broken in the planned drop. Finally, Lincoln pulled a black hood over Inks’ head.

Everyone on the platform stood back, and at exactly 8:52 a.m. Sheriff Edwards pulled the lever and Inks shot through the trap to his fate.

County Physician Dr. Evans and his three assistants (why did it take four of them?) monitored Inks’ ebbing life with their fingers on his pulse. Fourteen and a half long minutes later, they pronounced him dead. The sheriff then purposely waited another 30 minutes before he released his hangman’s rope. Men (there were no women present, as far as we know) struggled to see the dead man’s face as the rope and hood were removed.

Inks’ face was not discolored, and it "seemed to contain a look of awe to those to dared to behold it," the Sentinel said. As predicted, his neck was not broken -- Inks had strangled at the end of the rope. It seems as though Inks’ “cruel and unusual,” slow death by strangulation easily could have been avoided by a longer rope or higher gallows. Hmm . . .

Undertaker Denny placed the body in a coffin that had been pre-positioned near the scaffold. Denny observed, matter-of-factly, that it was the first time he ever prepared a coffin for someone before they were dead. The coffin was placed in a box, and an Oregon liveryman named D.A. Young departed with it, presumably in a wagon, for Mound City. A funeral in the family home there was set for the next day.

Inks, in a letter to his friends, asked to be buried in the Caton cemetery on the road between Mound City and Craig. He named some of his pall bearers -- J.B. Denny, W.M. Carr, and John Clark. He also asked Carr to send an account of his execution to individuals in Colorado, Nebraska, and other Missouri towns. Those people probably included his mother and step-siblings.

And he left behind another rambling letter, penned two days before his death, to be published in the Mound City Times after his execution. The letter cited Biblical passages that he claimed proved that his death sentence was not a Christian act. It also accused Mound City men of gossiping about his wife. And it stated that he had found salvation in Jesus.

We don’t know how average citizens of Holt County felt about Inks, his crime, and his fate. But the Holt County Sentinel, which published an “extra” (as in the newsboy cry, “Extra, extra – read all about it!") edition of its paper the next day was less than sympathetic – much less. It called the murder, “One of the most cold-blooded in the history of Holt County.” The paper went on to say that, “It was not committed in the heat of passion, when the blood was on fire, and the brute instinct dominant. The mind of a man without conscience conceived the terrible idea, and it was part of a diabolical plan, designed for personal revenge.”

The Sentinel concluded, “John Patterson had not wronged him (Patterson). They were, and had been, on reasonably good terms. But Inks owed a debt to Patterson, and Patterson felt that it should be liquidated.”

The debt indeed was liquidated – by the liquidation of both parties involved.

James Inks, as desired, was buried in the Caton Cemetery. The cemetery is on private land, so no image of any grave marker is available.

John Patterson’s grave is part of an impressive family monument in the Maitland Cemetery. His wife Sarah, who is buried with him there, lived another 17 years after her husband’s murder. His son James Patterson, who was present at the Inks execution, also is buried in the family plot.


Forty years after James Inks’ execution, the grim spectacle of public hangings in Missouri came to an end. Local sheriffs would no longer be responsible for executing criminals convicted in their counties. Instead, beginning in 1937, all executions were conducted by state officials, using a new lethal gas chamber at the state penitentiary in Jefferson City, the state capital.

Even in back in 1897, the Inks hanging was described as "Holt County's only LEGAL hanging." That, of course, begs the question, "How many ILLEGAL hangings happened?"


102 South Main Street
Oregon, MO

Opening Hours

Thursday 10:00 - 16:00


(660) 446-2903


Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Holt County Museum & Research Center -Oregon, MO posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Museum

Send a message to Holt County Museum & Research Center -Oregon, MO:


Nearby museums


Wish someone would restore it
Someone with enormous funds available should restore it.Hate to see it just fall in.
Excellent place to learn of the county's history. Thanks Bill McGuire, for putting me onto this page.
In honor of Maitland Monday, here is a family photo of downtown Maitland. Not sure of the exact date, but since McDowell Bros. Bakery is on one of the windows, it is probably around 1923 or so. Photo credit: Fay Southwell
Who is this with Al Webster in this 1950s photo taken at Oregon Truck & Tractor? Enquiring minds want to know!
When can I bring my tree to the Museum?
Due to predicted rain & cold temperatures the CEMETERY TOUR WILL BE AT THE MUSEUM ON SUNDAY THE 14TH AT 5:00. The flyer states a rain date of October 21st but it was decided to move it to the museum. There were some participants that could not be there of the 21st. HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!!!
Historic Porch Tour in Oregon MO is Sunday July 15 from 1-5 pm. Tickets are $8 and will be available at the Oregon Missouri banks. There are ten stops and begins at the Holt County Museum and Research Center where tickets and a cold drink will be available. The event is co-sponsored by the Community Action Committee and Holt County Museum and Holt County Museum & Research Center -Oregon, MO
CORRECTION: The Open House & program is SUNDAY APRIL 8 at 2:00.
very nice
Come see this photo and 150 others of 1950s Fall Festival parades (and the 1957 Forest City Centennial) showing on the big-screen TV at the Museum now through September.