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May 5, 2017

Leeton Museum - Mineral Creek Historical Society - Leeton, Missouri

Thank you Peggy Nuckles!
The Leeton Museum is located in the former Church of the Brethern, the oldest church of that denomination west of the Mississippi.
Mineral Creek Historical Society
 400 N. Main St.   Leeton, Missouri 64761   
Curator Bob Wyatt at the entrance. May 2017
The museum has 86,000 items appraised at a total value of $1.6 million.
Dining Room 1890

With so many items to display in a small church, the museum is crowded but the curator is trying to raise funds for an expansion.

Farm Life

Leeton is a farming community.  Agricultural activities provide the largest share of its economy.

Most of the mules used by the U.S. military in W.W. I were supplied by Leeton-area farms.  The State Normal in Warrensburg adopted the name for their sports teams due to this.
Purina was a major contributor to Leeton's economy for many years - so much so that many people decorated their homes with Purina's red-and-white-checkerboard motif.

Other Farming Activities.


The Organ at the top of the entry stairs

Frank Jerome

If you never heard of this Leeton artist, it's because he had to keep his career a secret.  His father wanted him to be a blacksmith, but his mother secretly sent him to Paris to study under Monet and Renoir.  (They told Dad that Frank was traveling as a salesman.) When he returned to Leeton, he painted many pictures including this elk which became the trademark for Hartford Insurance.
Hartford Insurance trademark

Frank Jerome often photographed his subjects so that they didn't have to stand in uncomfortable poses.  Here's a nun moving a chair.
He took many of the photographs of Leeton events that are on display in the museum.
Bob Wyatt points out some of Jerome's photographs of Leeton churches.

Dr. Robert Lee Cooper

Proud parents of Robert Lee Cooper had his picture taken before his first haircut. The boy grew up to be a prominent physician in Johnson County.
A lock of his hair is in the foreground

Civil War

Some humorous, local Civil War history
The bottom half of the story is hard to read.  It says, 
"Years later his grandson Lewis Venable owned the box and continued to keep the money in the bottom the box. His wife, Waketta happened to find the money while Lewis was in Kansas City selling hogs.  When he returned he noticed the box was moved and found the money gone.  Being from a Union family and very patriotic, she burned the over $100,000 in Confederate money in the 1950s not knowing it was worth, at that time, over a quarter of a million dollars."

Mildred Wash

Mildred Wash's piano is on display:

Mildred Wash, Piano Teacher
Mildred Wash taught piano in St. Louis until she movied to Leeton, Mo area in the 1850's.  Among here talented students was Julia Dent who married U.S. Grant and became the First Lade of the United States.  Mildred's family was devastated by the Civil War which resulted in her moving back to St. Louis.  She and Julie Dent Grant lived together after the death of President Ulysses S. Grant.
President - General Uysses S. Grant and Wife Julia
 the-two-julias link
Julia Boggs Dent Grant (January 26, 1826 – December 14, 1902), was the First Lady of the United States and wife of Ulysses S. Grant. Her time as First Lady marked a turning point in her life, where she became a national figure.

The day of the (Lincoln's) assassination, Julia was visited by one of the conspirators wearing “a shabby hat.” –
I thought it was the bellboy with cards. ‘What do you want?’ He reddened and, bowing, said, “This is Mrs. Grant?” I bowed assent. “Mrs. Lincoln sends me, Madam, with her compliments, to say she will call for you at exactly eight o’clock to go to the theatre.” To this I replied with some feeling (not liking either the looks of the messenger or the message, thinking the former savored of discourtesy and the latter seemed like a command), ‘You may tell Mrs. Lincoln that as General Grant and I intend leaving the city this afternoon, we will not therefore be here to accompany the President and Mrs. Lincoln to the theatre.”  

She is buried along side her husband in Grant's Tomb.  

Ulysses_S._Grant_National_Historic_Site - White Haven Near St. Louis

Porter Baker

Porter Baker started working at the Bank of Leeton when he was 20 and quit 80 years later at 100.

Porter Baker's bank desk and his hand-made childhood rocking horse.

Service Stations

Owen and Jeff Wyatt


Notice the building with "Lee's" on it.  That is the original building moved from Burnett Station southeast of Leeton to that location.  This resulted in the starting of Leeton.

George Flosschoen

Bob Wyatt is a prolific writer who has published many books including this one in collaboration with George Flosschoen.

Leeton Museum

The Mineral Creek Historical Society of Leeton began the effort to officially purchase the former Church of the Brethren building and its contents by paying a check for the entire amount in July, 2004. The Church of the Brethren District at the same time made a sizeable contribution which reduced the actual requested amount several thousand dollars. Unfortunately there were a number of problems with the title and it was another year before the transfer of the property was completed.
During that final year of waiting to take over the building a number of things disappeared from the building leaving the pews, two wooden tables, a blackboard, piano, a cupboard, kitchen cabinet, a couple of wall clocks, a child’s chair (broken), sandpile table, and a few other odds and ends as the only remaining items.
The entire building had been painted pink both upstairs and downstairs. There were large cracks in the foundation and the basement floor was in need of being sealed to prevent dampness. Upstairs the water damage from leaks in the roof were continuing to broaden with a need to replace some ceilings and repair some drywall. 27 windows had been broken including storm windows. Birds had left droppings on some of the pews and floor.
As soon as the transfer was made official with the issuing of the title in 2005, work began on the restoration with volunteers clearing out all trash, scrubbing floors, pews, and ripping out damaged ceilings from leaks in the roof. New glass was placed in the windows and storm windows. This made a big difference in the heating bill during the winter that did not exceed $50 a month for gas.
The foundation cracks were repaired by Billy Smith. He also scraped the basement floor and painted a sealer on it to prevent dampness. A dehumidifier was donated by Bob Wyatt which also improved the climate of the basement.
With improvements being made at the museum and work finally underway, the first bulletin for the museum was issued in April, 2005.
The Society hosted an open house and ham dinner at the community building in July, 2005. On display were the photographs developed from the glass negatives from the blacksmith/artist of Leeton who took the pictures from 1900 to 1915 and are a great photo history of the community. The following Wednesday the society hosted a free dinner for the senior citizens to show their support of those who had helped to preserve Leeton in more recent years. The primary cooking for the dinner was done by Mike and Mary Myers with supporting help from the other board members.
During August, 2005, all the rooms were painted and repairs made primarily by Betty Crooks, Bob Wyatt and Billy Smith and several other volunteers who worked a few hours each. The sanctuary was painted three shades of beige/brown with gold accents in the metal ceiling which gives a southern traditional flavor to the appearance.
In October, 2005, an open house was held with a business meeting for the entire membership. A new board of directors was elected. Also in the celebration was a car show, workshops presented by Indians and Civil War re-enactors along with several other features to climax a very enjoyable day. Memberships increased dramatically and several contributions were received.
In November, 2005, 27 people gave memorial gifts in the name of Martha Wyatt. The society purchased with this money a new back door, door frame and storm door which improved the appearance and prevented cold winds from entering the building.
A roofing company was hired to remove four layers of asphalt shingles and the original wooden shingles. A new layer of roof was installed, new shingles placed over it and the guttering around the roof restored. Thanks to a large contribution by Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Garvey of Florissant, Missouri, the society was able to complete this work before winter in 2005.
All the rooms were eventually painted and repairs made to damaged ceilings. The pews were turned to face each other and a large plywood board placed on top with supporting boards underneath to form the display tables. It was thought at the time that occasionally the displays would be removed by carrying the plywood one at a time to the side room. The pews were to be turned around and the sanctuary would be useable for meetings. Amazingly the number of display items has exceeded everything anticipated and it is doubtful that this can be done. The thousands of items on display would be too time consuming to move for a meeting.
In December, 2005, the basement was filled with several train sets and a number of villages as the Christmas holiday was underway. A new location for this display will be necessary as the area used last year has been filled with numerous display items donated by the community and now are valued at a half million dollars.
During the summer of 2006, Billy Smith scraped and painted the lower half of the building which improved the appearance of the building tremendously. Work on the upper half is expected to be done before winter. A sign for the front of the building was made by Bob Wyatt and installed. Judy (Bancroft) Shumate prepared signs to direct people to the museum from the highway thanks to contributions that people have been making to a special fund.
Many have come and participated in the cleaning of the building including Betty and Don Ward, Gene and Marilyn Thompson and Bill and Judy Shumate. Betty Crooks has done a good deal of work painting and cleaning. Amos Foster donated time working on various projects in the building and recently donated the entire Security System for the building. Others are starting to give of their time to make this a viable part of Leeton.
During 2006, additional work on the research room and other rooms continued to upgrade the appearance of the building. A doctor’s office was set up using Dr. Cooper’s cabinets. The basement became completely filled with a wide variety of things including five different decades or periods of kitchens, and five decades of dining rooms. The intention in the basement is to provide people the opportunity to view how things have changed over the years with irons, cameras, washing machines, etc. from early models to later models.
Currently the society is raising money to replace the wiring in the building, install additional lighting to spotlight the displays and to install an electric heating/cooling system to insure better protection for the display and research materials.
For additional information on the museum check under "facilities" in the main menu.

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