Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society
The Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society (MCHGS) was chartered in 1988 to promote, preserve, and protect the history of Mississippi County. Since its inception, MCHGS has actively fulfilled its mission through continuing efforts to educate the public and garner community support for historic preservation.
The origins of MCHGS go back to 1987, when a group of county citizens led by Dr. Eldon Fairley, an Osceola (Mississippi County) physician, petitioned the Mississippi County Quorum Court to appoint a commission that would be empowered to form a historical society. After several organizational meetings, the appointed commission determined it would launch a historical society as well as provide sponsorship for an associated publication. At the society’s charter meeting on April 13, 1988, members agreed that this publication would be known as the Delta Historical Review. With a $5,000 grant from the quorum court for operating expenses and a charter membership of more than 100 individuals, MCHGS quickly achieved unprecedented community support.
Membership is open to anyone interested in the county’s history and its preservation. Members pay an annual fee determined by their specified membership level, which are student, individual, family, business, and lifetime memberships. The Delta Historical Review is included with all memberships except those at the student level. The Review is an annual publication devoted to membership news and memorials, as well as reprints of histories, records, and photographs related to the early history of the county.
In 1993, MCHGS found a permanent home in the historic Fred G. Patterson building, a former dry goods store located in Osceola. Lonetta Patterson, daughter of Fred G. Patterson, had previously donated the building and its contents to MCHGS for use as a historical center. With many original furnishings from the store’s inventory, MCHGS operates the old store as a museum and research center, displaying numerous art objects, paintings, and other historic memorabilia donated by various pioneer families. The museum also maintains a collection of reference materials relating to county history, including funeral home and cemetery records from much of the county. With the recent purchase of two adjacent buildings, MCHGS plans to expand its research area and incorporate a gift shop and a coffee shop for visitors.
During the building’s days as a dry goods store, it was Patterson’s custom to display his shoe inventory on the front porch entrance. Today, a single shoe placed in the store’s display window indicates that the museum is “open for business.”
MCHGS relies upon a staff of volunteers during its hours of operation and for assistance with fundraising and administrative activities. Current projects include the indexing of more than 600 courthouse books from the 1820s to early 1940s as well as the cataloging of museum acquisitions into a computer database.
For additional information:
“Charter Members of the Mississippi County Historical and Genealogical Society.” Delta Historical Review 1 (Spring 1989): 1–3.
Schnedler, Jack. “Downtown Osceola Site of Historical Center.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 17, 2019, p. 4E.
Toney Butler Schlesinger
Granite Bay, California
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