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The Johnson County Historical Society is an organization with a mission “to promote individual and general interest in the history of Johnson County by locating, collecting, and preserving pertinent information, either by written records, photography, or other permanent media.” The society operates the Heritage Center and Museum at 131 West Main Street in Clarksville (Johnson County).
Nine people gathered in 1974 to form the Johnson County Historical Society, and Dr. Robert Basham served as the first president (1974–1975). Membership has since grown to approximately 200 members—from Johnson County and around the United States. As of 2011, the president is Mark Hodge, who has served in that role since 2009. Other officers include a vice president, a recording secretary, a corresponding secretary/treasurer, and the editor of the society’s journal. These officers work in conjunction with a five-member board of directors.
In January 1975, the society published the first volume of the Johnson County Historical Society Journal, with Mary Maude Gallagher as the editor. The society publishes the journal twice per year, in the spring and the fall. A subscription to the journal is included with membership in the society.
In addition to the journal, the society has published two books of historical records: Johnson County, AR, Marriages 1850–1890 and Johnson County, Arkansas 1890 Personal Property Tax Book. The society also distributes two additional books: History of Johnson County, the First Hundred Years by Ella Malloy Langford and Probate Court Records: Wills, Deeds, 1835 Tax List, 1840 Census by Lillian Mickel.
The society holds quarterly meetings of the general membership, which usually include special programs or presentations. Since 2006, the society has sponsored a contest at the Johnson County Fair, encouraging county residents to create entries in a number of categories, including Family Story, Photo Pedigree Chart, Heritage Presentation, and “My Family Portrait.” The contest includes both adult and youth divisions.
In June 2010, the society achieved a goal that was thirty-five years in the making when it opened the Heritage Center and Museum. The center is operated by volunteers and includes exhibits on various facets of county history, including dolls from the Anna Marie Payne Wiley estate and a collection of vintage photographs from Clarksville and Johnson County. In addition to the museum areas, the center has a research room for historical and genealogical research. Among the research materials available at the center are clipping files with data on county families and communities from county newspapers; a complete collection of the Johnson County Historical Society Journal from 1975 to the present; all federal census indices for Johnson County; databases of burials in Johnson, Crawford, and Franklin counties; and a large collection of materials related to the Mountain Meadows Massacre. In addition, Johnson County–related photographs are being scanned for archival preservation.
The society accepts articles for the Journal as well as loans (either permanent or temporary) of artifacts and historical photographs for display at the Heritage Center.
For additional information:Johnson County Historical Society. http://www.ar-johnsoncohistory.com/ (accessed October 28, 2010).
Greta MarlowUniversity of the Ozarks
Last Updated 3/2/2011
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