There are some names that stand out in American history. Just the mention of them will elicit images of the era in which they lived. This is certainly the case with past presidents, like Washington or Lincoln. It also applies to some other historic figures like Daniel Boone. Just the mere mentioning of his name makes us think of a rugged pioneer in a coonskin cap. His fame was so widespread that there are many towns, counties, and regions that bear his name. In the heart of Missouri, you will find Boone County History Museum, which looked like a good place to learn more about this area.

The main exhibit was celebrating 200 years of Boone County history.

200 Years Under Their Belt

This museum, in Columbia, has been preserving the history of Boone County since 1924. Since this was just a chance to stretch our legs, we only had time to explore their rotating galleries. It was the fall of 2020 and they were deep into the 200-year celebration of Boone County. The name is one that we had seen a lot recently. An earlier excursion had us visiting the Boone’s Lick region around Arrow Rock. While it was originally settled by relatives of Daniel Boone, they still chose to name it in his honor.

Sketches of early structure in Boone County were interesting to see.

Early Dwellings

We found it quite intriguing to see the pictures of some of the early residences and buildings in this region. We could imagine living in a community that was spread over many miles. Your closest neighbors would be spaced at a distance to allow the benefit of living off of the land. Seeing the image of the earliest construction on the Missouri State University was especially mind-blowing. To think, the sprawling campus once began with such a rural footprint.

The authors explore an old wagon on display at Boone County History Museum.

Exploring the Space

More investigating led to the examination of this covered wagon. With our various museum visits under our belts, we easily pictured images of pioneers rolling across the prairie. We looked for markings that would tell us if this was possibly manufactured by the Mitchell Wagon Company. The history of this unique business was brought to our attention during a visit to nearby Boonville, Missouri.

Part of the uniform of a Civil War general is on display during the celebrating 200 years exhibit at the Boone County History Museum.

Civil War Connection

It’s not unusual to find reminders of the Civil War in Midwest museums. The exhibit at the Boone County History Museum only briefly acknowledged the war. It was a sword and uniform from Union General Odon Guitar that were the showpieces on display. Gen. Guitar spent much of his war career in skirmishes with guerrilla fighters from the Confederate side. While Missouri was home to a collection of slaveowners, this was generally confined to the fertile areas along the path of the Missouri River. The state did not pick a side during the war but was mostly under Union control. The lack of decisiveness did not prohibit the citizenry from picking their own side to support.

A statue decorates an exhibit on the history of Boone County.

Boone County History Museum

The “Celebrating 200 Years ” exhibit also included a variety of pieces that would have been commonplace in the 1800s and 1900s. A makeshift porch setting was the perfect perch for a statue of a rugged resident occupying himself with a dry shave. Nearby, an oversize map detailed the lands that make up Boone County. After taking in this rotating exhibit, we moved on to the next gallery.

One of the traveling exhibits paid homage to the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

19th Amendment

In a separate room we discovered the temporary exhibit that focuses on the fight for women’s right to vote. It is hard to imagine that even as late as 1919 women were refused this basic right. If you look back at the history of the United States, you will find that many of colonies allowed women to vote. After 1776, all of the states, except New Jersey, would adopt constitutions denying women of this right. Prior to the Civil War, a growing movement began to address the idea of correcting this inequality. While the war stifled the movement, it resumed during Reconstruction.

Some informational placards were used to help drive the push to allow women to vote.

Winning the Vote

The 19th Amendment exhibit at Boone County History Museum focuses not just on the movement as a whole, but the actions that were taking place in Boone County. The three white dresses are the showpieces of the display. We could picture women at the turn-of-the-century marching through the street demanding suffrage. By the beginning of World War I, eight states had changed their stance on women’s voting rights. After continued defeat on a national level, it was President Wilson who urged Senate to ratify the 19th Amendment. It finally became law on August 26, 1920.

The authors pose for a photo after a visit to the Boone County History Museum.

Midwest Exploring

Visits to places like the Boone County History museum are a great way to connect with the communities that dot the landscape. Even though our time was short, we learned a lot about this part of the state. Stops like this help keep our intrigue at a high level, so we are more eager to pull off when we see more places like this. It was the perfect way to get ourselves prepared for the Route 66 Road Trip that was the next portion of this journey. We’ll share that part of our trip over the next few weeks.

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