Seal of Kirksville

Kirksville City Historic Landmark

THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM BUILDING IS NOW A KIRKSVILLE HISTORIC LANDMARK! We will be receiving a plaque for this distinction. Through the dedicated efforts of ACHS Board Member Linda Hudnall, on September 30, 2019, the Kirksville City Council, as approved by the Kirksville Preservation Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission, designated the Adair County Historical Society Museum (formerly the Sojourners Club Building), as a City Historic Landmark, number 11 in the city. The Sojourners Building, built in 1916 and designed by local architect Irwin Dunbar, was built in the early 20th century Prairie School architectural style. ACHS purchased the building in 1999. In 2014, the building was placed on the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES by the United States Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. The distinguished national registry qualifies public and private properties through its detailed nomination process in efforts to identify, evaluate and protect America's historic and archeological resources. Our building, located at 2ll South Elson Street, currently serves as the ACHS Museum and office. The Board of Directors and staff are local volunteers dedicated to the gathering and preservation of Kirksville and Adair County historical artifacts, documents, histories and genealogy files. Great pride is taken in overseeing this beautiful building and its historical significance to our community.

Adair County Historical Society Building
211 South Elson Street, Kirksville, Missouri 63501-3466. 1-660-665-6502

Windows to the Past

Thanks, Museum Supporters!

THE NEW MUSEUM WINDOWS ARE INSTALLED! We are proud and happy to report that installation of our 37 new windows and one door is now complete, thanks to our many members and friends who contributed so generously! We were able to purchase windows with simulated wood grain frames on the interior to match the wooden facings and sills. The outside window frames are cream color to match the stucco. Although our new windows are tinted to cut down on sunlight, we are also installing new blinds on all floors except the basement to keep the sun from damaging any artifacts. The basement has pebbled glass. We also had our window wells on the south side of the building cemented in and framed on the inside.

Further Needs of the Museum

Below is a list of the projects which we hope to complete at the museum in the near future. We ask for the help of our members and friends who have so faithfully supported us in the past with the preservation of Adair County history. If you can help us financially with any part of these items, we would greatly appreciate it! Contributions are tax deductible. We are a 501 (3) c.

1. The upper portion of our building is stucco. Two years ago, we painted the front portion of this stucco, but not the other 3 sides. Now, the other 3 sides have a lot of old, peeling paint. We have an estimate for painting the other 3 sides: $3,500
2. We need to upgrade the electrical safety of our building in order to comply with fire codes. This involves upgrading some outlets, adding two additional EXIT signs, and covering exposed wiring in the basement. $2,216
3. Our Genealogy Section needs an additional legal-size filing cabinet. $271
4. Pouring a concrete pad in our flower garden for the setting of the cornerstone from the demolished Kirksville High School which is ready to be donated to our museum. $300
5. Upgrading our heating system with a programmable thermostat so the heat will automatically be lowered for the hours and days when no one is at the museum. $244
6. Repairing our heating system with new valves for the radiators. $291
7. Two mannequins for our newly-donated military uniforms. $111
8. One day in August, 2019, volunteers came into the museum to find that a large portion of the plaster ceiling in our stairwell room had fallen, creating a huge mess to clean up, and leaving the fluorescent light fixture in a precarious position. Our most economical estimate for repairing this ceiling by removing the rest of the loose plaster and replacing it with beadboard is: $2,628
9. Temporarily repairing holes caused by removal of water-damaged tiles in the top floor ceiling. This occurred before our new roof was installed in 2015. $205

gifts for sale from a historic cabinet

Gift Shop

NEW GIFT SHOP: We have established a new Gift Shop at the museum, displaying our books, pamphlets, calendars, mugs, candles, postcards, paperweights, and note cards which are available for a suggested donation. The large cabinet is an historic piece which once sat in the Hat and Shoe Works business at 116 S. Franklin Street in Kirksville. It stored the hats which they "blocked" for customers. This business was started by two brothers, Paul and George Johnson, who came from Greece. Paul was 19 when he took his little brother, George, age 10, and sailed to the United States, landing in St. Louis in 1909. They came to Kirksville after World War I ended in 1918 and started a shoe repair and hat cleaning/blocking business.

We have refurbished this cabinet with stain and replaced the wooden shelves with glass shelving and lighting. Donations to the Elaine Curtis Memorial Fund were used for this project.

We welcome you to shop here for Christmas gifts for your history-loving friends. Memberships also make good gifts! Call or write us for more information, 660-665-6502.

delta chi fraternity members help move the cabinet

MOVING FURNITURE: Moving the old Hat and Shoe Works case to make our new Gift Shop at the museum was no easy task! It is very tall and does not come apart in the middle. We enlisted the volunteer help of Board Member Pam Sylvara's grandson, John Sylvara, and two of his college friends from the Delta Chi Fraternity, Austin McClanahan and Matt Applegate (pictured here). They also moved other display cabinets so we could re-arrange the main-floor museum room. Thank you boys for your volunteer time and super strength! To our public, be sure to check out the changes anytime you visit the museum!

2020 calendar cover

2020 Calendar: Little-Known Stories, People, and Places of Adair County

The 2020 Calendar of the Adair County Historical Society is now available! Each year, the Historical Society creates its own original calendar dedicated especially to local Adair County history. This year's theme is Little-Known Stories, People, and Places of Adair County. Even if you don't need a calendar, get it for the interesting stories and photos! Pick up for $5.00 at the Historical Society Museum, 211 S. Elson in Kirksville, Wed, Thur, and Fri 1:00 to 4:00. Or, get one by mail by sending $8.00 to the above address. This includes postage. There are also several places around Kirksville where you can get one, such as banks and the Courthouse.

Lookin' Good Award

ACHS board and local government members

The Adair County Historical Society was honored this September to receive the "Lookin' Good Award" from the Kirksville Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee. We were recognized for our improvements to the museum, the new windows, resurfacing the front steps, and painting the outside banister, as well as weeding our two flower gardens. For the latter, a huge "Thank You" goes to Chris and Linda Boultinghouse for their two days of work in cleaning the flower gardens and removing the waste.

Pictured here are left to right: Anastasia Tiedemann, Economic Development Committee member; Blytha Ellis, ACHS President; Pam Sylvara, ACHS Board member; Linda Hudnall, ACHS Board member; Larry Whitney, Economic Development Committee; Linda Boultinghouse, ACHS Board member, Mary Kay Crnic, ACHS Vice-President; and Debi Boughton, ACHS Board member and Kirksville Tourism Director.

Annual Fall Banquet/Meeting

Thanks for the great turnout at our 2019 banquet! Our 2020 Banquet date is to be determined.

The Adair Historian

This is the 36-page quarterly magazine of the Adair County Historical Society which is included with your membership, or can be purchased separately at any time.

Current Issue

January 2020 Magazine Cover

The Adair County Historical Society's new magazine is just out! It includes articles on the military legacy of the Coy family, the lives of the Eskra twins, and the life of Adair County architect Irwin Dunbar, as well as the continuation of the House of Bennett series and the standard museum updates. For members, your magazines have been mailed to you. For non-members, get your copies of this magazine for $5.00 at the museum (open Wed, Thur, and Fri 1:00 to 4:00), or by mail for $9.00 by sending a check to ACHS, 211 S. Elson, Kirksville, MO 63501.

Online Archive
This is a list of articles published in the The Adair Historian published by the Adair County Historical Society beginning in 1998 through 2009. The article titles are listed in chronological order by date printed. One can use a browser's search feature (ctrl + f) to check for particular names or words.

Tables of contents and cover photos for Adair Historian issues dating from 2016 to the present are available from the "Pictures and Summaries" tab. in the sidebar.

To Obtain Hard Copies: The ACHS will send up to three articles from this index for a $10.00 minimum charge plus $3.00 each thereafter. Send your request including the article names, and where they are located including the year, season, volume and page number plus a check made payable to the Adair County Historical Society at 211 South Elson, Kirksville, MO 63501. The request must include a self-addressed envelope (legal sized) with enough postage to cover the return mailing by first class (up to 4 pages = 1 oz. postage, 5-9 pages = 2 oz. and 10-15 pages = 3 oz.).
Researchers may also view all volumes of The Adair Historian at the Society¬ís museum and library at the above address and make copies for twenty-five cents a page. Regular visiting hours are 1 - 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Call 660-665-6502 if you have questions.

Mostly Ghosts

Novinger Photo Collection

The Adair County Historical Society "Mostly Ghosts" photo collection by Cyrus Truitt is available at the ACHS. It has one thousand pictures, mostly in or around Novinger. The information is available by photo number, subject, and surname. Click here for more information.

Novinger History Book

Novinger Renewal has its 2001 history book - Novinger (Adair County), Missouri The People, The Town and The Surrounding Communities available for sale. Book features: 768 pages * hardbound * 134 biographies * coal mines * railroads * history of all place-names in county west of the Chariton River * businesses * complete 76 page all-name index * 17 maps * 669 photos and much more...

2001 history books are available at the cost of $55. Arrangements can be made to pick up books in Novinger or Kirksville locations by calling 660-488-5280. To request a copy by mail send the $55 payment, along with shipping costs of book rate ($5.25) OR priority mail ($10.95), to Novinger Renewal, P.O. box 24, Novinger, MO 63559.


The Adair County Historical Society was established in November 1916. In 2016, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of our Historical Society. This is how we came into existence: The Missouri STATE Historical Society was active in 1916, and they anticipated celebrating Missouri's 100th anniversary of statehood in 1921. As part of this celebration, they asked that all counties in Missouri seek to establish their own historical societies. Most counties did just that. In Adair County, the proposal for a Historical Society was presented at the Rural Life Conference held at the Kirksville Normal School in November 1916. After that conference, about 30 people indicated their interest in setting up an Adair County Historical Society. Dr. Charles E. Still was the first President, Miss Abbie Leavitt was Vice President, and Professor E. M.Violette was secretary-treasurer. This group organized a Missouri Centennial Celebration in 1921 honoring Missouri's 100 years of statehood, and this was held at Ownbey Lake in Kirksville. By 1922, the Adair County Historical Society had 250 members. They set up their first museum at the Kirksville Normal School which later became the Teacher's College, and now Truman State University. The Society, unfortunately, experienced some years of inactivity, but was revived in 1975. Today, it happily boasts over 450 households as members, and many more members if individuals were counted. Our museum at 211 S. Elson St. in Kirksville was originally built in 1916 for the Sojourners Club, a ladies literary club, and had the only public library in Kirksville for eighty years. This building is now the home of the Adair County Historical Society's offices, genealogy department, and museum.

Located at 211 South Elson Street
Kirksville, Missouri 63501-3466.
Phone: 1-660-665-6502

Enter starting street address:

City, State or Zipcode:
Show Me The Way

Have a question about Adair? Ask the Historians at the Adair County Museum!
211 South Elson Street, Kirksville, Missouri 63501-3466.
The ACHS museum hours are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 1 - 4 p.m.

Board Members:

Missouri State Archives - website, and Facebook page ( for more information.