Old Jefferson Town

(Deb) I love, obviously, old places and one of my favorites ever since I moved to Kansas, has been Old Jefferson Town at Oskaloosa and I have taken several tours up there and it’s just so picturesque. It’s a beautiful place to go and have a picnic. I hope they allow picnics because I had one there, right there in the park in Oskaloosa, but it’s just so pretty. (Frank) It is. (Deb) So have you been up there lately? (Frank) Not lately, but I have been there since they improved Highway 59. So, now you can actually get there. (Deb) Roads. Roads are important people. You can’t get around Kansas without roads. (Frank) Now, you know James Reynolds, who plays Abe Carver on Days of Our Lives… (Deb) Yea. (Frank)…and since, I believe, 1983 is from Oskaloosa. (Deb) We did a feature on him, so look back on our archives and find that wonderful feature on him that Frank did. That was a really nice story, really nice segment. (Frank) It was. And of course James did a lot. Of course, we know him as Jim, but now that he’s in Hollywood… (Deb) A big deal. (Frank)…he’s James. (Deb) Yea. (Frank) But no, sorry Jim. Anyway, we did a lot of shows together with the Dale Easton players at Apple Valley Farm. (Deb) Sure. (Frank) Then of course, he was down to the playhouse at Lake Pomona as well. He was the Captain of the boat that went out. (Deb) Wow. Lots of Oskaloosa connections. Of course, right across from the Statehouse, John Steuart Curry, the John Steuart Curry home is in Old Jefferson Town at Oskaloosa. They moved that. He was actually born on the Hickory Point Battlefield a battlefield from Bleeding Kansas. They moved his house in and it’s part of it. It’s got great exhibits. So yea, let’s take a look. (Frank) Yea. I get to tell you this story.
The Jefferson County Historical Society has moved structures from around the county to Old Jefferson Town in Oskaloosa, Kansas, a nearly 10 acre park that includes a blacksmith shop, jail, general store, chapel, school house, Victorian home, and the John Steuart Curry boyhood home & museum. Also housed at Old Jefferson Town are the genealogical research building, a bandstand, and a native grass prairie. Plans for this “Village of Yesteryear” began in 1967 when the Jefferson County Historical Society accepted a gift of four and a half acres from Bill and Betty Leech. The first buildings were moved to the site in 1970. Among the features unique to Old Jefferson Town are: The 1875 Bowstring Bridge was manufactured by the King Bridge Manufactory in Cleveland, Ohio. It originally crossed Rock Creek north of Meriden. In the 1950s, the bridge was moved near Valley Falls, and in 1975 the bridge was finally moved to Old Jefferson Town. The Matt Frazier Wind Wagon sculpture illustrates the story of Samuel Peppard, a local blacksmith & wagon maker who was looking for adventure in 1860. He built a wagon with a mast and sail to take him to the gold fields in Colorado. Oskaloosa residents dubbed the wagon “Peppard’s Folly.” Peppard and others started for Pike’s Peak and made it within 100 miles of Denver before their wagon was broken apart by a whirlwind. The John Steuart Curry Boyhood Home and Museum is devoted to the artist John Steuart Curry, best know for the murals he painted in the Kansas Statehouse. Curry’s 1900 boyhood home was moved from a few miles outside of town to these grounds in 1990. The house features Curry family memorabilia, some of his sketches & ink drawings, and one original painting.