ACHS building

Get In Touch

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.
Issue with the website? Email the site manager here.

Covid-19 Information

The museum is back open! Please follow CDC-recommended guidelines to protect you and us from spreading the virus at the Historical Society. We have hand sanitizer and masks available for guests. Visiting hours are 1-4 PM Wednesday - Friday at 211 S. Elson St, Kirksville, MO. Unfortunately, however, we cannot hold our banquet this year.

Museum News

Dr. James Wells with the Harrington Jewelry sign at the ACHS Mike McVey with the Harrington Jewelry Store sign at the ACHS

New Addition to the Adair County Historical Society Museum

We recently received this large sign from the former Harrington Jewelry Store which was once on the south side of the Kirksville square. This 2-sided sign looks like a large pocket watch and is made of heavy metal. It was donated by Dr. James Wells of Kansas City (shown in first picture) and installed by Mike McVey of M & M Maintenance in Kirksville (shown in second picture). This is securely attached to the beams in the ceiling of the Business Room of the museum. Be sure to see it when you visit our museum.

Seal of Kirksville

Kirksville City Historic Landmark

The historical society museum building is now a Kirksville City 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.

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.

2021 calendar cover

2021 Calendar: Did You Know?

The 2021 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.

Annual Fall Banquet/Meeting

Unfortunately, there will be no annual meeting this year due to our venue's prohibition of outside events during the pandemic. We hope to see you safely next year.

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

April 2021 Magazine Cover

The Adair County Historical Society's new magazine is just out! It contains Pam Sylvara's history of the 1957 and subsequent swimming pools, Debi Boughton's "Grandpa Charlie Adams and the Side Hustle," Blytha Ellis's "A Circus Showman from Adair County," as well as the sixteenth installment of the House of Bennett Series. For members, your magazines have been mailed to you. For non-members, get your copies of this magazine by mail for $9.00 by sending a check to ACHS, 211 S. Elson, Kirksville, MO 63501.

Online Archives
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 and are now being sold in the gift shop of the Adair County Historical Society. To request a copy by mail send the $55 payment, along with the shipping and handling cost of $20, to the Adair County Historical Society, 211 S. Elson, Kirksville, MO 63501.


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

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