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Northwest Missouri State University


Agriculture Museum

More than 65 years ago an agriculture teacher at Northwest with the unlikely name of Frank Horsfall Jr. began asking his neighbors and friends for old farm tools.

In those days, mechanization was rapidly changing the face of farming in north Missouri - and across the United States - and Horsfall wanted to create a museum that would preserve and celebrate the region's traditional agrarian culture.

The response was enthusiastic, and the collection grew quickly, many farmers being both "savers" and people with a keen sense of the past. By 1940 Horsfall had his museum, which was initially housed in the Administration Building.

Over the years, the collection, which continued to expand, had various homes on campus. But eventually, as the University grew and more space was required for academic programs, it wound up in storage.

Then, with the completion of the Valk Agriculture Professions Center in 1970, the items were moved into display cases scattered along the corridors. They remained there until this summer.

Now, Northwest's collection of agricultural and American Indian artifacts has a permanent home. Dr. Jamie Patton, former faculty member, cataloged, arranged and displayed the artifacts in a large room on the north side of Valk equipped especially for that purpose. The museum officially opened in fall 200.

Items on display include collections of wrenches, horseshoes, butter churns and branding irons along with tools used by coopers (barrel makers), farriers (blacksmiths) and cobblers.

Scattered among these artifacts viewers will find a corn shucking glove, stirrups said to have belonged to a former Arkansas governor, and a Minié ball scavenged from the battlefield at Gettysburg.

Patton said the oldest items on display are an oxen yoke made in 1799 and a corn cob discovered in a pueblo ruin dating from A.D. 1100.

"We wanted to provide a secure environment where these items could be displayed and used for educational purposes," Patton said. "Most of our students don't have any idea what this stuff was used for, but they need to know where we've been in order to know where we're going."

For more information about the museum, or to donate an artifact, call the Department of Agriculture at (660) 562-1155 (ext. 1155).