The Bates County Museum is located in Butler, Missouri.  Established in 1961, the Museum is housed in the old Bates County Poor Farm which was built in 1915.  The Bates County Historical Society & Museum is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation that is supported by endowment donations, memberships, admission, and event income.  Nine Directors serve on the corporate board.  The Society owns 34 acres of land on the northwest side of Butler and there is easy access from Interstate 49.

Bates County Museum
802 Elks Drive / PO Box 164
Butler, MO 64730


The Museum works closely with the citizens and communities of Bates County.  We are an active partner of the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area (FFNHA) that promotes the stories of the Missouri – Kansas Border.  FFNHA was established to remember the extraordinary people and events that occurred here along this border as the nation was forging its future.

Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources, “Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site,” provides an opportunity for us to work closely with Missouri State Parks.  The Battle of Island Mound occurred in October 1862 and marked the first time African-American soldiers met the enemy in battle.  The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry (1st KCVI) marched into Bates County to engage local guerrilla partisans who were gathered in a marshy area, along the Marais des Cygnes River, known as Hog Island.  The bravery of the 1st KCVI proved these men would fight.  One guerrilla was later quoted as saying, “They fought like tigers.”

Museum exhibits include Native American history, earliest settlers, Border War, Civil War including the Island Mound story and the story of the 1863 Union Army’s Order No. 11, which forced the evacuation of all citizens in the county.  Union troops then burned every town and farm.  Additional exhibits feature coal mining, life in the Victorian age, Sci-Fi author Robert Heinlein, Military Veterans and nuclear Minuteman Missiles of the 1960s-1990s.


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