The Baxter County Historical Society invites the public to observe and celebrate Baxter County Day 2019 by participating in a free “Passport to History Progressive Tour” on Sunday, March 24, between the hours of Noon-4 p.m. Baxter County was formed 146 years ago on March 24, 1873.

“The Society is calling this Baxter County Day our 2nd (Nearly) annual event,” says David Benedict, Society President, “because we had an observance in 2107 but didn’t have it last year. We plan to keep it going annually without any more skips, and we plan to highlight a different part of the county’s history each year.”

Those who take part in Baxter County Day this year may do so by making a progressive tour. “All four of our historical museum venues will be open that afternoon from noon until 4:00 p.m.” says Benedict, “with Society volunteers providing guided tours at each location. It gives the public a chance to see the richness of Baxter County history and learn something about the scope of the work of our Society.”

The Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society has museum exhibits at four locations: The Heritage Center at 808 South Bakers Street; the Rapp’s Barren Pioneer Settlement in Cooper Park; The Casey House at the southeast corner of the County Fairgrounds; and the Buford School Museum at 4439 Buford Road.

“Visitors will not only get to see the historic buildings and exhibits,” according to Benedict, “we will also have a lunch of beans, ham and cornbread at the Heritage Center, some other snacks along the tour route and visitors can enjoy a piece of pie at the Buford location.” Benedict notes that there will be some other giveaways on the tour as well. “And at Buford visitors can pose for photos in a classic 1970’s Excalibur auto,” he says, “and guests who have their provided “passports” stamped at all four locations will receive a free print of their “vintage” photo.

The Society is eager for people of all ages to come enjoy this great afternoon of enjoying and exploring our local history.

For more information call the Baxter Historical Society at 870-425-2551.

  August 21, 2018

Society Receives
a very generous
gift of $10,000
from member
Wanda Finley Roe


     A major gift of $10,000 was received by the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society on Tuesday, August 14, 2018 from Society member, Wanda Roe. Mrs. Roe is a native Baxter Countian who grew up in Norfork. Though she currently lives in Pea Ridge, she is a active member and supporter of the work of the Historical Society. “I’m a Baxter County girl,” she says.
     “The donation was a very welcome surprise,” according to David Benedict, President of the Historical Society. He says that Mrs. Roe told him by telephone that she had read a report in the current issue of Baxter County History, the Society’s quarterly publication, detailing that the group had recently arranged a sizable loan to repair the roof 511 S. Main, a historical property acquired two years ago. When she told him on the phone of her intention to make the donation, Benedict says he was momentarily speechless and then told Mrs. Roe, “Wanda, you’ve startled me,” to which she replied, “Good! I like to startle people.”
     Benedict says Wanda Roe is almost an historical institution herself. She was born Wanda Jeraldean Finley in Norfork, the daughter of Melvin and Luna Cockrum Finley. Her father was a Vaudeville performer who settled in Norfork, and was a pioneer in introducing the movie business in Baxter County. He built the Lyric Theater in Norfork in 1926 and operated it until 1957. He was a regional film distributer from an “annex” on the side of his theater where he stored movie reels and circulated them to movie houses throughout the area. 
     Wanda Finley graduated from Norfork Horace Mann High School in 1937, and later married Roy Roe, who was a Superintendent of Schools in Viola. She has had a career as a teacher, artist and musician. 
     The repaired Main Street property, constructed in 1920, originally housed the Baxter Bulletin and the Shiras Brothers Print Shop. It is a contributing structure in the Mountain Home Commercial Historic District. After the Baxter Bulletin moved to its current building, the Main Street location was bought by the Carney Law Firm. The legal firm used the building for many years, and when they relocated in 2016, donated the building to the Historical Society. At present the Society leases the building as an income property. The current tenant is Care Center Ministries.
     “This generous, spontaneous donation will really help the Historical Society,” notes Benedict. “The loan to repair the roof of our building on Main has already been paid off, and the Society will be able to continue our mission of preserving the past for the future without that financial burden. That will help our patrons, to whom we provide education about our rich history and archives for their family research.”
     All of us in the Society, and in fact the public who will benefit from her generosity, owe a debt of gratitude to Wanda Finley Roe, for the thoughtfulness and kindness of her gift. Thank you, Wanda, for providing this blessing! 

October 19, 2017

Hill 'N Hollow Quilters Guild Donates Quilt to the Society

The Hill 'N Hollow Quilters Guild gifted its Arkansas sesquicentennial quilt to the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society. This hand quilted quilt by Guild members was designed and assembled in 1986 by then Guild members Mary McAuliff, Florence Malaney, Paula Vines, and life-time member Connie Lutes. It has been on loan to the Donald W. Reynolds Library since 1994.

This attic window design tells the story of Arkansas and the Twin Lakes area. It depicts the State's official tree, pine; the Ozark Mountains with a bass and the logo of the Guild; Little Rock block

for the State Capital; a schoolhouse symbolizing the University of Arkansas; the State Flower, the apple blossom; the Crater of Diamonds at Murfreesboro; cotton and rice fields, along with a house block representing the historic Casey House in Mountain Home; and an outline of the State of Arkansas.

The Casey House, located on the Fairgrounds at the corner of Wade and Arena, will be open for tours October 19 – 21, 2017, from 10 a.m. To 3 p.m. during the Guild's Autumn in the Ozarks quilt show. The sesquicentennial quilt and pictures of the Guild's quilt shows held in the Casey House during the years 1984 – 1989 will be on display at that time.

This dog-trot style house was built in the 1850's by Colonel Randolph D. Casey, one of Mountain Home's first citizens, and it is the oldest existing home in Mountain Home. The Casey House is maintained by the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society.

(Submitted by Carol Lewis for the Hill 'N Hollow Quilters Guild)

September 3, 2017
Walks Through History Saturday, September 9
A great event from Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
     Please join our visiting guide from the Arkansas Historical Preservation Program for this walking tour of the Mountain Home Historic District. The tour begins at the Baxter County Courthouse beginning at 11 AM. The district is centered on the Baxter County Courthouse, and is bounded on the north by East 5th Street, the south by East 9th Street, the east by South Street, and the west by South Hickory Street.
     Most of the buildings in this area are commercial structures, one or two stories in height, of masonry construction. They are generally vernacular in style (based on local needs, availability of construction materials and reflecting local traditions), and most were built in one of two periods: between about 1900 and 1920, after the arrival of the railroad, and in the 1950s, when the city experienced another major period of growth.
     The oldest building is the 1892 Baker Building at 601-603 Baker Street. The first permanent settler in the area came around 1810. A post office was established in 1857 and the Male and Female Academy opened in 1853. It was burned during the Civil War along with most of the houses and businesses in town. Mountain Home and the Male and Female Academy were rebuilt after the war with the addition of several new businesses.
     Mountain Home was incorporated in 1888. With its central location and strong educational background, Mountain Home became the county seat of Baxter County when it was formed in 1873. The establishment of a college in 1893 further solidified the town as an educational center.The tour is being co-sponsored by the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society.

June 26, 2017 


Buford Schoolhouse building transferred
to Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society


     The ownership of the historic Buford Schoolhouse building was assumed on Monday, June 26 by the Baxter County Historical Society, with the signing of an agreement first proposed by the Buford Volunteer Fire Department in January. The building is located on Buford Road, State Highway 126. As the new owner, the Historical Society will preserve and manage the building as a schoolhouse museum and an event venue for the benefit of the public.

     With the construction of a new fire station in the area at 232 County Road 614, the department no longer needed to use the old schoolhouse as an auxiliary structure. Department officials, however, recognized the historic nature and value of the building, and believed the Historical Society would be the logical organization to receive the property. We thank them for their foresight.

     “When the fire department came to us with an offer to take over the schoolhouse, our Historical Society officers were excited about the possibilities,” says David Benedict, President of the Society. “We knew there would be a lot of challenges for us as a non-profit with a very modest budget. But ensuring the preservation of such a building is completely in keeping with the purposes of our Society.” Society members voted officially to acquire the building in our monthly meeting in March.

     Constructed in 1935 to replace an earlier one-room schoolhouse, the two-room structure served the educational needs of the Buford community until the school district, No. 16, consolidated with Mountain Home School District No. 9 in 1949 (although elementary grades still met at Buford through 1959). When classes ended the building continued to be used as a community center. That function continued after the Buford Fire Department acquired the property in 1983 for use as department office and headquarters.

     To help maintain the historic building, in 1992 the Fire Department applied to add the Schoolhouse to the National Register of Historic Places and the Arkansas Register of Historic Places. Historic registration involved granting an easement on the property to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, part of the Arkansas Department of Heritage. In acquiring the schoolhouse, the Baxter County Historical Society will continue to meet the preservation standards required by that easement.

     The fire department’s engine station No. 1, which sits adjacent to the old schoolhouse, will still serve as one of four stations of the department. The transfer agreement does not involve the sale of real estate. Only the building itself is now owned by the Historical Society.

     Phyllis Speer, Chairman of the Board of the Buford Fire department, stated that their board members were pleased that the Historical Society would be continuing to preserve the historic building.

     For the Historical Society Benedict said, “We hope to make the building more of a school museum than it has been for a while, by adding exhibits which emphasize the impact of rural education in Baxter County.” He added, “We will still maintain it so that community groups can hold scheduled events such as weddings, family reunions or other community interest gatherings.” He said persons interested in using the schoolhouse building for an event should contact the Historical Society at 870-425-2551.

In the picture below, Ken Jensen, (Center) Treasurer of the Buford Volunteer Fire Department Board meets with Society officers (From left) Rod Soubers, David Benedict, Joan Reeves and Jeff Lewis for the signing of the agreement transferring the historic Schoolhouse. 


 April 29, 2017: Confederate Memorial Day Observed
     Under the threat of rain and storms, the Historical Society joined with members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Wiggins Battery in the annual observance of Confederate Memorial Day on Saturday, April 29. The pictures above are from the 2016 observance, but other arrangements were necessary this year.
     The event normally begins at 10 a.m. in the Mountain Home Cemetery where a wreath is placed at the grave of one of the Confederate veterans interred there, and a biography of that veteran's service is presented. This year the weather prompted the decision to move the entire observance into the courtroom. Following the program the participating groups enjoyed a potluck dinner and a time of visiting.
April 7, 2017
Society Receives $2,946 in donations during ArkansasGives on April 6 
   Our sincere thanks to all the kind people who provided generous donations to the Society through ArkansasGives on April 6. Our donations totaled $2,946! That includes a bonus fund amount based on the regular donations we received ($2,740) as a percentage of all donations given.
   These donations will strengthen our ability to meet our 2017 budget needs. Thanks for stepping up to help!

January 29, 2017

Society secures two-year lease agreement for 511 S. Main

     It was a happy start to the new year for the Society to be able to enter into a two-year lease agreement beginning February 1, for the use of the building by Care Center, a local faith-based rehabilitation program. Pastor Cotter launched that work in Mountain Home about two years ago, after having been trained in the national headquarters of Care Center ministry in Texas. Their mission is to provide biblical teaching and spiritual guidance for men whose lives have been sidetracked by involvement in crime, substance abuse and other issues. The ministry also provides them with a place to live and practical rehabilitation through work and service in our area. It is meant to give them a path back to being a productive member of the community.

     We believe that this lease agreement will be a win-win situation for both the ministry and for BCHGS. One positive result is that the historic building is being restored and preserved. The building was not only the location of the offices of the Carney Law firm for two decades, but for many years before that housed The Baxter Bulletin and the Shiras Brothers Printing Company.

Pastor Ty Cotter of
Care Center Ministries

December 19, 2016
     We hope you like the new look of our website and the features it has. Our purpose in making the change was to make it more colorful, more useful, and more economical. The cost of hosting this site each year is considerably less than for the service provided by the previous hosting company. That organization did a good site for us, and we again acknowledge Maryanne Edge for her work in getting it going several years ago and serving as webmaster.
     It has taken quite a bit of time in 2016 to put this site together-- and there are still things to add and tweak, of course, but our goal is for it to represent our Society well, to let users know what we do and what is going on with the Society, and certainly to be a help to those who do online research on their family history and the history of our great county and area.
     We encourage you to especially check out the databases available under the Research Tools and Helps for Your Research links. We're especially pleased that the first ten years of our Quarterly, Baxter County History, are digitized and on our site for you to explore page by page.
     When you go to the new Photo Gallery, be aware that each thumbnail photo is a link to an album of pictures. Click on the thumbnail, and then on the Gallery name to open the slideshow of photos. We will be adding new albums as soon as we can.
     Also check out the Online Store, which gives pictures and full descriptions of the items we have for sale (just click on the View Items link), and a shopping cart to collect your items in before completing the purchase. Of course, if you prefer not to purchase online, you can still contact us by email or regular mail to order items.
     Note also that there is a Query Form to use to guide you in asking us your family history questions.
     Look around the website and enjoy it. We are open to your suggestions and corrections, of course. And we can always use more volunteers to help with this and our other projects in history!