The Shelby County Historical Museum houses thousands of artifacts that relate to a broad spectrum of history. Our earliest artifacts date to prehistoric times when woolly mammoths and musk oxen roamed across the lands. We possess Native American artifacts that help educate us about the people who first settled this land before pioneers pushed the American frontier westward. When the pioneers settled in Shelby County in the 1840s and 1850s, they did so on a foundation of hard work and community. The bulk of our collection, including two original log cabins dating to 1856 and 1857, detail Shelby County's history since the pioneers arrived and visitors can see how life in this part of the country changed over time and towns sprouted up (some disappearing) around Shelby County.
American settlers rolled across the mountains and prairies of the United States in search of better lives and hoping for a prosperous future. The Shelby County Historical Museum houses thousands of artifacts and many tell the tales of this area's settlement. This covered wagon, belonging to the Erickson family, helped these pioneers come to Shelby County in the 1870s and descendants of those settlers remain today.
And prosperity did come, along with new technologies that allowed for faster travel over greater distances. Farmers and townspeople eventually left their wagons to rot away, purchasing cars that helped to carry them to their places of business or allow them to take family vacations more readily. Our museum is proud to hold two antique cars, a Buick and a Hudson that mark the dogged shift toward technological advancement and reminding us that, even in rural towns, many people still yearned for the latest in elegance and comfort.
The Shelby County Historical Museum is proud to house hundreds of textiles from handmade quilts and rag rugs to fancy dresses and linen handkerchiefs. Many of the items in our collection are entirely handmade. This "snowflake" quilt from the 1930s shows extraordinary finesse. Each tiny, individual piece has been hand-sown to the piece next to it. Imagine how many hours this must have taken! Amazingly, the owner entered this piece in a quilt show and received a second place award for her handiwork.
This National cash register oversaw many transactions for engagement rings and anniversary gifts throughout this county's history. The Tinsley family served as well-respected jewelers on the north side of the Harlan Square 1876-1977. But things are not always as they seem. Several years after this cash register entered our collection, a visitor who had worked at Tinsley's helped us to open the stuck drawer. Inside we found several checks that had fallen behind waiting to be cashed.