Oswego, Kansas Historical Society Inc,
& Genealogy Department

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E-mail : historyatoswego@embarqmail.com
(620) 795-4500
410 Commercial
Oswego, Ks  67356
 What, might you ask, is the Museum doing on the Alumni's Web Site? Well! There's a wealth of information, pictures,
            books, newspapers, etc concerning the Oswego schools, and it's available to you at the Museum. Year books? Yea, they
            have those too, & much much more. Check 'em out, you'll be glad you did!
Preserving our past - a series of articles on the beginning of the Oswego Historical Society.
  The Museum is located on the first floor of a two story building owned by the Historical Society. Look into our many rooms, set up just the way it might have been in the lives of someone in your family.  Our museum is filled with furniture and artifacts left to us through the years. From the early log cabin to turn of the century living, we have collected many things to fascinate you.

     At the Log Cabin, (Log Cabin article) located at 3rd and Merchant, you will find a Pioneer Mother and Child Statue carved by Georgia Denton. Inside the cabin are many wonders that will send you back.

   Little Town Well, located on the corner of 4th and Union, is the site of the original spring. Used for many generations by the indians and travelers throughout the area. The well was dug about 1841 by slaves owned by John A. Matthews, who also established a trading post nearby. On the corner of 4th and Commercial is the mural of the Osage Indian Village (The village of White Hair, taken from the original painting by E. Marie Horner) and the Matthews Trading Post.

     Many artists in our community both from our past and present share their art with everyone that walks into the museum. Whether it be of prominent citizens, a social gathering, or landscapes, these beautiful pieces are on display in the museum. Ten showcases are filled with interesting artifacts of our history.

     The Historical Society maintains four large signs throughout Oswego. Each describes a part of our History. These signs are located at;

  • Little Town Well
  • Riverside Park
  • Camp Siesta
  • John W. Schmoker Memorial Park

  Come visit us in Oswego, we've got a "Great past in store for you".

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Oswego Genealogy Department

The following resources are available for research at the Oswego Museum:

IGI Index
All available Federal and Kansas Census for Labette County
Tombstone Reading Inscription Books Volumes I & II
Up to date records of Oswego Cemetery listing location of graves
Marriage records Labette County 1867 thru 1891
Family Tree Maker Volumes 1 thru 22
Social Security Death records
Old newspapers on microfilm dates 1869 to current, 
time printed in Oswego, Ks.
History Books
History of Labette County Ks 1893
History of Labette County Ks and Representative Citizens 1901 by Nelson Case
History of State of Kansas 1883 by A.T. Andreas
Directory of History and Genealogy in Kansas

We are glad to be of help to those doing their own research.
Inquire about our research services.

Open June 1 to Oct. 31
1:00 - 5:00 P.M.
Monday thru Friday

By Appointment
Call (620) 795-4500

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PRESERVING OUR PAST - The Oswego Historical Museum 

Established high on the bluff south of the Neosho River, was the site of an Indian Trading post of one John Mathews, a good friend of the Osage tribe who lived below. It was an idyllic peaceful life that was destroyed by Union soldiers at the beginning of the Civil War, and the land lay deserted and barren until after that conflict.
The site would flourish again as settlers and Veterans of the War began their trek westward, looking for land and opportunity. This beautiful spot became known as Little Town, which later would be named Oswego, a place where civic pride would abound and its heritage remembered.

The years passed and with each year came the people, each making their own place in the history of the town. We remember and honor those settlers like the Halls and Howells, the Embrees, the Clovers. Another to remember is Nelson Case, an attorney, who used his pen in recording the history of our little village and the people who lived here. His books are in the local museum to be read and researched.

We will always hold in honor Wayne O’Connell, who we all knew as “Pat.” It is because of his interest and enthusiasm in preserving the history of our town that we have your heritage available in the Oswego Historical Museum.

The date was Jan. 19, 1967 when an organization was incorporated under the name of Oswego Centennial, Inc, selected for the 100th Anniversary of the City of Oswego. 
On June 7, 1968, the Articles of Incorporation honoring 100 years of growth were amended, changing the name to Oswego Historical Society, Inc.
Enthusiasm grew among the populace, encouraged by the Chamber of Commerce that Oswego should establish a Historical Museum. 

In February 1970, members of the Oswego Historical Society, Inc. were given information that Oswego was entitled to approximately $1,500 per year from County tax money to support a museum. Quickly, a Board of Directors was appointed and by the month of May, an open house was held at 411 Commercial to receive antique articles for exhibit. All items were to pertain to Oswego and the surrounding community. When the collection was completed it included a living room, bedroom, dining room and kitchen. An authentic early day railroad depot waiting room filled a corner of the museum. Because of lack of space many items were left in storage, so began the discussion of larger quarters for the museum.

It was reported there was $2,000 in the Frank Farris Fund, being held by the Rotary Club and designated for use in providing a new museum. Those funds had been drawing interest for 17 years with a total of $2,800. With additional assistance of our benefactor, Pat O’Connell, the Oswego Historical Museum moved to the lower level at 410 Commercial. The Adams Lodge #63 retained the use of the second story for their meeting rooms. That arrangement continues. The Lodge building was acquired on March 1, 1989. The property had been owned by the lodge since Feb. 26, 1879, 110 years that date.

Those persons who gave their time and energies during the formative years of the Oswego Historical Museum must be honored for their dedication to bring this to a reality. We know Loyal Clough, Paul Miller, Dr. Dillenberger, Nadine Herridge, Mable Barker, Jeff Kitterman, Mary Lou Mumy, Bob Carpenter, Lounette Dillenberger, Clint Tuttle, the Tot Colmans, Mrs. Art Burgess, Ruth Sutton, Louise Baker, Clarence Gore and of course, last but not least, one Jerry Barnard are but a few of many others getting the museum off to a glorious start. –– Submitted by E. Marie Horner

A New Location
This is second in a series provided by the Oswego Historical Society
With the efforts of volunteers, remodeling the new museum at 410 Commercial, moved along very quickly under the direction of Loyal Clough. 
Improvements included a new suspended ceiling, partitions for display rooms on the north side, and carpet was laid throughout the building. By June 27, 1990, the Oswego Museum was open on a regular schedule, the hours of 1 to 5 p.m. each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. Corriene Graue volunteered as curator that first year. 
Soon the museum was filled with furnishings of an earlier time, memories were stirred and family heritage became important.
The decade of 1990 brought researchers eager for early day records. From near and far, they came seeking. Our files grew, and books of family history filled the shelves, joining those written by Nelson Case and A.T. Andres. There was a rush for census tapes, cemetery books, Oswego newspapers,….. Oswego Museum became the place to go for early day family history.
The year 1993 would be remembered as the time when Pat O’Connell passed away, leaving a void he had attempted to fill with a generous trust fund to keep the Oswego Museum and Genealogy Department in motion from that day forward. We will not forget this dedicated historian and many of his projects are in our files.
As the years passed, the museum grew. A collection of military memorabilia, another pertaining to medicine, a wall of paintings by local artists, a religious section from local churches, all from Oswego heritage. Our responsibilities have grown as well. The Little Town Well and the four historical signs located in the parks must be kept in good condition as will the Hollingsworth Log Cabin and the Pioneer Mother statue. And we have in storage the Garman Blacksmith Collection waiting to be placed in a site yet to be determined. 
We should mention the many murals over town including two funded by the Kansas State Historical Society. We are especially proud of the Post Office mural funded by the federal money in the depression days. What better way to show outdoor art, than to organize a walking tour. Just stop in the Museum and pick up a folder and follow the map. Every picture has a story.
Many volunteers and members of the Oswego Historical Society give freely of their time as needs arise. It was George Stull, and Thayne Green who brought our finances into the computer world. Jody Nading continues with that project every month. 
Linda Rife and Laura Cunningham, both talented with an eye for design, have at times arranged displays in the front windows. Laura took on the tremendous task of re-arranging the whole museum after a terrible storm caused roof damage in the building, bringing about the need of a new ceiling and carpet. The results are most pleasing.
It is in the Museum where the Oswego High School Alumni List is retained. That original effort was the project of Larry Jones.
Our budget is limited but adequate for most expenses, but it is not allowing for any expansion or the un-expected. All such projects are on hold, awaiting the generosity of those who want to join in the effort of Preserving Our Past. 
The Museum is open June 1 to Oct. 31, the hours 1–5 p.m.
For off-hour entrance, call 795-4843, 795-2242 or 795-2436. Eleanor Monroe is our curator, assisted by Jean Snyder. Jerry Barnard gives his time as president of the organization. –– Submitted by E. Marie Horner, historian
(To be continued)

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The Smith / Hollingsworth Log House

     The early day history of our little city is shown in many of our downtown buildings, parks, and the town well, but we point with the most pride at the “double” log house built in 1869, surrounded by tall maple trees, visited often by the curious public.
     Built from oak and walnut logs from the Neosho River bottom, fitted together without pegs or nails, then was chinked to seal between the timbers, the log house contained two sixteen square-foot rooms, with a nine foot dog-trot between them under a common roof; probably sat on the ground and had a dirt floor, but now stands on a original foundation and location.
     The house was constructed by a Little Town settler, James Smith, who soon sold it to Mrs. Elizabeth Hollingsworth, a pioneer mother with seven children. That family or their descendants occupied the home for 74 years.
     Through the years, a second story was added to the house, modern-day siding and other additions, then generations of our citizens forgot that under the fuss, rested a quaint log house, waiting to be brought again to view. In 1974, the current owner of the property, Mrs. Nellie Thomas, made it a gift to the city of Oswego for a downtown park. The Oswego Historical Society was designated the task of restoring the log house to its original state. Off came the veneer which covered the treasure, and to the amazement of many, in our midst is a moment of history.
     A few years ago, during a bad storm, lightning struck down one of the beautiful maple trees in front of the log house. When the debris was removed, the tall trunk of the tree was left which we believed might be carved into a ”Pioneer Mother with child,” a tribute to the early day mothers of our area.
     Some time passed, then one day, a lady entered the Museum, introducing herself as Georgia Denton, a wood carver from the little town of Edna, saying, “I hear you are wanting a tree carved!” This artist was well recommended, and we soon learned first hand the talent and dedication to her chosen area of creativity. A Pioneer Mother with Child statue compliments the historical scene.

From the land and nature’s bounty, 
With little more than dreams
And faith to hearten, the Pioneer
Mother raised her family.

     After a few seasons, it was apparent local woodpeckers liked the statue as much as we do. So thanks to efforts of Lyn Kirk and funding provided by Grace Lewis, the statue has been carefully sealed and protected from the environment. –– Submitted by E.M. Horner

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