Welcome to the Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County
The Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County, established in 1998, is a local non-profit, admission-free history museum dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Montgomery County, Arkansas.
The museum includes in its collection items that originated in, were used in, or had an impact on the geographic area known as Montgomery County, Arkansas. Items in the museum’s collection include artifacts used in daily life in the county, and photographs, letters, and documents relating to the life of Montgomery County residents.
Exhibits: Indoor Exhibits include Arkansas State Quarter, Quartz Crystal Mining, Forestry/Logging, General Store/Church/School, Post Office/Barber Shop, Pharmacy Office, Home Life and Genealogy. Heritage House Museum has a collection of oral history tapes available for the public to listen and hear stories from the past. Individuals are welcome to add to this collection in order to share their memories with future generations. The museum has a large family history section comprised of locally collected genealogy materials, photographs, census records, and other unpublished documents.
Grounds: The two-acre campus of the museum showcases several structures, including an 1800s log house, the ‘Eleanor” Outhouse, an exhibit barn, an equipment shed, and a sorghum shed.
History: The museum was a dream of local resident Richard Rudell “Dick” Whittington, owner of Whittington’s Drug Store and descendant of one of the county’s first families. The Whittington family donated the land on which the museum now stands. Mr. Whittington was the primary benefactor for the construction of the museum building. Thanks to the generous endowment left by Mr. Whittington, as well as private contributions and membership dues, the museum has been able to continue operating without charging an admission fee for the past 20 years. The museum is staffed primarily by volunteers.
Scope: Preserving the words, deeds, and activities that made up the daily lives of our ancestors. Special emphasis is placed on the effects and contributions of the timber industry, quartz crystal, and Lake Ouachita. The historical period represented is 1800 to 1975.
- Preserve the colorful history of Montgomery County utilizing exhibits, archival records, other activities and special events as deemed appropriate by the Board of Directors.
- Collect, identify, record, and preserve historical objects, photographs, and archival materials within the stated scope of the museum’s mission.
- Create and maintain a facility to appropriately preserve and display the historical objects, photographs, and archival materials entrusted to the museum. Provide a community-friendly facility that makes space available for activities positively affecting Montgomery County.
- Provide educational activities through interpretive exhibits, programs, traveling exhibits, tours, publications, research, and other activities as designated by the Board of Directors.
Hours: March - December
Thank you to all of our members! Without you, the museum could not continue! The museum operates on private membership and business contributions.
Existing members, if you have not already done so, please mail your membership dues check or money order to:
Heritage House Museum
P.O. Box 1362
Mount Ida, AR 71957
Levels of Membership: Member $25.00, Patron $50.00, Benefactor $100.00, Corporate $200.00. Donations of any amount are always appreciated!
To become a member or to renew your membership online, please visit our Membership page.
Our Annual Sorghum Festival takes place on the Second Saturday in October.
Fall is the time for harvesting sorghum cane and processing juice extracted from the cane into sorghum syrup. Sorghum production was once a local community event. Montgomery County families hauled loads of their homegrown sorghum cane to their nearest neighbor with a mill, a mule, and a cook stand. Squeezing and cooking each families’ crop of sorghum was a full-day event. Sorghum syrup provided a nutritious and filling winter staple. Slathered on a homemade biscuit, sorghum helped satisfy many a morning and noontime hunger.
In 2010, the Heritage House Museum introduced the Sorghum Festival, an annual event showcasing the traditional method of making sorghum syrup. During the festival, attendees can observe locally grown sorghum cane being squeezed, cooked, reduced to syrup, and even sample locally produced sorghum syrup on hot buttered biscuits. The entire process, from planting and harvest to milling and cooking the sorghum cane, is performed by museum volunteers. Two mills are employed to squeeze the cane: a tractor powered mill and a mule-driven mill. Watching the harnessed mule, attached to the wooden pole of a small mill, walk steadily in a circle, powering the mill to extract the light green juice from the cane is a highlight for many.
The Sorghum Festival also features demonstrations of various types of antique machinery and techniques for rope making, corn milling, weaving, blacksmithing, and knife sharpening, and flint knapping. Local musicians provide live music. Vendors offer a variety of arts, crafts, and baked goods for sale. And, of course, sorghum can be purchased as well.
The Sorghum Festival is held on the Second Saturday in October, so mark your calendar for this sweet event.
Indoor Exhibits include Forestry and Commercial Logging, General Store, Post Office, Barber Shop, Pharmacy, Church, School, Home Life, Quartz Crystal Mining, Lake Ouachita Fishing and Recreation, Military and Veterans, Family History, Genealogy, Photographs, Documents, Maps & more!
The Exhibit Barn was built in 2008 to provide additional display and storage space. Constructed by local craftsmen and using as much local timber and materials as practical, this structure was designed to accurately represent past barn structures of Montgomery County and patterned after the Gene Griblin barn on Liberty Road outside of Norman. Many thanks to Mr. Richard Baker who engineered the structure and museum board member Hodge Black who oversaw the project. Chris Ray was Project Manager during construction.
The museum grounds include a log house built c. 1880 by Samuel and Susan Kinsey Mullins in the Alamo community. Sam notched logs left behind by a logging company for the walls. The rafters are pine logs. Lumber removed from a truck to lighten the load after being stuck was salvaged and used for the floor and ceiling. All but the oldest of the Mullins children were born in the house. Sam died young, and Susan later remarried Rabe Jones. The combined Mullins-Jones families lived there. When Rabe decided to build a house closer to his grist mill, it was bought by John Milholen, still a bachelor, for himself and his mother. John soon married Minerva Burrows, and they raised their loving family in the home, adding several rooms to accommodate an active family. The board and batten addition was kept when the house was moved to the museum. The roof, porch, and chimney were rebuilt, and the well casing was added. What a fine tribute this house is to Montgomery County’s heritage. Structure donated by Wayne and Pat Hopper. The log house was moved to the museum grounds and reconstructed in 2009.
The Eleanor-style outhouse was moved from Pine Ridge. It was built in 1938 on the Kirby Hicks property. In 1930, during FDR’s administration, Eleanor Roosevelt promoted the construction of a more sanitary outhouse as a part of the WPA (Works Progress Administration). For $5 – $17 to cover the cost of materials, a property owner could have this newer-style outhouse built. It has a one-piece foundation and raised seat made of cast concrete placed over a hole dug in the ground. The tin roof was either A-frame or slanting. A ventilation system of screened openings allowed air to draw odors and keep out flies. The owner had to burn his old outhouse. Three-man teams would spend an average of twenty hours on the construction of each outhouse. One would dig the pit, and the other two pre-cast the concrete and prefabricated the buildings in sections. Lap wood siding was used outside with long vents under the eves and the etched WPA mark on the concrete floor. This concrete floor helped improve rural health by reducing the incidence of hookworms that attacked the bare feet of country folk. These worms are able to travel up to 4 feet from the waste through the soil, so outhouses are commonly made at least 6 feet deep. Many people left the door open while using the “necessary outhouse” for light and smell. Before ‘toilet paper’ was available, outhouses were stocked with mail-order catalogs or clean corn cobs. Wood ashes or lime, kept in a bucket in the corner, would be spread occasionally to discourage files and odor. Donated by T.J. and Norma Duhon.
Built in 2011, the Sorghum Shed Building is dedicated in memory of Hodge Black, Master Sorghum Chef, for his many years of service. The Sorghum Festival was his creation and his dream. In 2010, Hodge started the festival outside in the brisk November air with a mill and evaporating pan owned by Joe Pete Sheffield. A concrete pad had been poured. Ronnie Abbott had built the concrete framework for the 14-foot stainless steel pan, while Jimmy Abernathy provided the tile for the flue. J.R. Bishop installed gas lines and burners for a better heat distribution than the wood fires of olden days could afford, and Graves Propane set the tank for the gas to be used. Before the next festival rolled around, the walls and roof had been completed.
The Equipment Shed / Pole Barn was added in 2014. Being a county history museum inevitably brings not only small items to place in the main building but also large items that present storage challenges. Bill Lewis’ vintage thresher with wooden wheels was one of those items. So, where do you store a massive thresher? Under a pole barn, of course. Thus the discussion to construct a pole barn on the museum grounds began. It was quickly completed after a membership renewal drive with the pole barn as a project. Our Pole Barn was built in 2014 by the Helms boys. The pole barn allows us to display some other items that had been occupying space on the museum porch.
Montgomery County Quilt Trail
The Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County’s entry in the Arkansas Quilt Trail is displayed on our Exhibit Barn. The quilt is named “Four Tulips”.
Betty Wheeler shares the story: “This quilt was made by my great-grandmother, Sarah Standridge Wheeler. She and several of her older daughters made quilts in this pattern at the same time. My grandmother, Ada Wheeler Widener, was one of those daughters. These quilts were made prior to my grandmother’s marriage in 1900. My grandmother’s quilt was lost in a house fire in 1925 when my mother, Viola Widener Payte, was 5 years old. Granny Wheeler’s quilt went to her youngest daughter, Rosie Wheeler, at her death. Later she gave Granny’s quilt to my grandmother. My grandmother has been gone for over 40 years and Granny’s quilt has belonged to my youngest aunt, Aunt Alice Widener. Aunt Alice felt it belonged in a museum. So, when she heard we would soon have a museum here, she was pleased to send it home to us. We agreed to see it turned over to Heritage House along with its history. The cloth from which it was pieced came from the carefully saved remnants of cloth used to make the clothing various family members wore. The cotton batting was cotton raised here on the Wheeler Homestead. The seeds would have been picked out by hand, and the cotton carefully smoothed out on tightly stretched quilt lining until completely covered. Then, the top would be carefully placed over the batting and basted into place. A “reach” would be quilted along the edges of the quilt. (A “reach” was the distance one could reach to make the quilting stitches.) The large quilt frames would be hung by cords from the ceiling. When the room was needed for some other activity, the cords would be wrapped around and around the end of the frames until it was above head height.”.
Alice Widener and Viola Widener Payte donated the quilt.
Memorial Brick Walkway
The Memorial Brick Walkway guides visitors into the museum.
We are nearing completion of this installation. If you are interested in purchasing a memorial brick please call to see if we still have space. Memorial bricks are $50 each.
Thank you to all who have participated in the memorial brick fundraiser.
Board of Directors
2023 Museum Board of Directors
Left: Debbie Baldwin, Secretary; Karen Hamilton, President; Kenn Greene, Vice-President; Carla Vaughn (front) Mike Baxter (back); Larry Jones; Bill McKimm, Treasurer; Gary McWilliams; Faye Shields; Ben Shields; Bob Galloway; Bill Ray. Not Pictured: Paula Morphew Newsom.
We have hired a new Director at the Museum. Jeannie Green Brakefield, an area native, has been chosen to fill the position. Jeannie is also the current Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce director. She is very knowledgeable about our county and will be a great asset to the museum. Please stop by the museum to say “hello” and see all the Montgomery County displays.
The museum depends on the generous support of our volunteers.
We can always use more help! Volunteer training is available for those interested in serving the museum as a docent, maintaining exhibits, preserving artifacts, research, cataloging, transcription, and more.
Volunteers are also needed to promote and work the Sorghum Festival as well as helping to cultivate, harvest, and process the sorghum.
Please call the museum if you are interested in volunteering.
Many thanks to our current and past volunteers!
Each year the museum selects an individual to receive the Richard R. Whittington Award. The award is presented in memory of Dick Whittington, the museum’s benefactor. Selection is based on a person’s outstanding contributions to the museum because of their volunteer service, advocacy for the museum, and/or financial contribution.
This year’s 20th recipient was Carla Vaughn. Carla has been on the Board of Directors for three years, and prior to that served as a volunteer. She currently serves on the Accession, the Membership Drive, and the Exhibit/Display committees. She has also put in numerous hours as a greeter at the museum, both on a regular basis and when no other volunteer is available. She has been an invaluable asset to the museum. CONGRATULATIONS!
Visit the Museum - Free Admission!
The Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County, established in 1998, was a dream of Richard R. Whittington, a descendant of one of the county’s first families. Due to his generosity, and that of our members, donors, and volunteers we are able to offer Free Admission.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1362, Mount Ida, AR 71957-1362
Directions: At the intersection of Highway 27 and Luzerne Street. (Near Mount Ida City limits, toward Norman)
Follow Us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hhmmc
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
When was Montgomery County, Arkansas founded?
Dec 09, 1842
Who was Montgomery County, Arkansas named after?
Montgomery County was named after General Richard Montgomery, a general who died during the American Revolution.
When was Lake Ouachita created?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Lake Ouachita between 1946 and 1954.
What is the difference between sorghum and molasses?
Sorghum syrup and molasses are similar products from different plants. Sorghum syrup is made from the green juice of the sorghum plant, which is extracted from the crushed stalks and then heated to steam off the excess water leaving the syrup behind. Molasses is the by-product of processing sugar cane plants into sugar.
Arkansas Quilt Trail – begun as a way of preserving local history while beautifying our communities for residents and visitors alike. A quilt trail is a series of painted wood or metal hung or freestanding quilt squares installed along a route emphasizing significant architecture and/or aesthetic landscapes. Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County is a member of the Arkansas Quilt Trail.
Arkansas State Quarter – The Arkansas state quarter, designed by Dortha Scott of Mount Ida (Montgomery County), was issued in October 2003. The design features a diamond flanked by depictions of rice and a mallard duck with a background of trees and a body of water. The release of the Arkansas quarter was the culmination of a design process that began in January 2001 with a statewide competition challenging Arkansans to submit proposed designs for the coin.
Mount Ida Chamber of Commerce – Find out what’s going on in Montgomery County.
Montgomery County Visitors Guide – View the online version of the local visitor information guide.
Front Porch Stage (Live Music) – Looking for good clean family entertainment on Saturday nights in Mount Ida? Check out this site for more information and listen to a little sample of their music too! What, never heard of Possums Unlimited? This link will educate you on that too!
Lum and Abner Museum and Jot ‘Em Down Store – the Lum and Abner radio show (1931-1955) was set in the Jot ‘Em Down Store in fictional Pine Ridge. In 1936, at the instigation of Dick Huddleston, the citizens of Waters, Arkansas changed the community’s name to Pine Ridge in honor of Lum and Abner. Today the museum & store feature Historical artifacts, including the 1886 post office, souvenirs and collectibles. Lum and Abner radio programs are played in the museum.
Gap Mercantile, an Old-Fashioned General Store – Go back in time to the 1930’s and 1940’s when you walk through the front door at Gap Mercantile in Caddo Gap, Arkansas! This old-fashioned general store was built in 1932, and still contains many of the original store counters, displays, and other artifacts, along with several displays of the area’s farming heritage.
Old Norman High School – Displays include a replica of Ms. Zena’s one-room schoolhouse, genealogy and local history library; sawmill room with 100 year old wagon, sawmill shotgun house from the 1920s-30s, vintage office with period equipment and local pictures, artifacts
Encyclopedia of Arkansas – a project of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in Little Rock, Arkansas. It is the only state encyclopedia in the country to be produced by a library system. The CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas strives to offer a definitive, comprehensive, and accurate record of America’s twenty-fifth state. The mission of this free online encyclopedia is to collect and disseminate information on all aspects of the state’s history and culture and to provide a comprehensive reference work for historians, teachers, students, and others seeking to understand and appreciate Arkansas’s heritage.
Rockhounding Arkansas – Resources about quartz crystal and other minerals of Arkansas.
Violet Hensley – Violet Hensley is an Arkansas Living Treasure Award winner from Yellville, Arkansas. She was born in 1916, learned to fiddle in 1928 and make fiddles watching her father George W. Brumley in the community of Alamo, Arkansas in 1932.
If you have a website you feel would be of interest to museum visitors, please send us the address and we will consider including it here.