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Johnson County Historical Society was established in the 1920s and became increasingly active in the 1960s as part of an effort to preserve the historic buildings around the Warrensburg Courthouse Square. The organization offers archives that include over a century of newspaper clippings, diaries, maps, and other manuscripts. The museum offers exhibits related to the history of Warrensburg and Johnson County, with a special emphasis on the Civil War, prominent early settlers, and the famous trial of Old Drum. Thanks to the donation of funds and materials in the 1980s, the society established the Mary Miller Smiser Heritage Library. In recent years, donors have made possible the preservation and relocation of a historic one-room schoolhouse near the museum and archives. The group also works to preserve the historic Old Courthouse and other structures throughout the downtown area.


  • The organization preserves many of the historic buildings in Warrensburg's Courthouse Square and operates a local history museum and library.
  • The historic courthouse was in operation from 1842 to 1871 and is best known for the 1870 trial regarding the wrongful death of a beloved canine where George Graham Vest delivered a eulogy that spawned the phrase "man's best friend."

Members of the organization preserved the city's historic courthouse in the 1960s-a herculean effort as the building had been used as a single-family home for seven decades and was facing possible demolition. The courthouse was the site of the famous case of Old Drum as well as the murder of a county clerk owing to his political beliefs. The museum includes the records of the county court, as well as several exhibits related to the history of the county during the Civil War. Although some local men participated in raids or joined the Confederate army, the majority of residents preferred neutrality or sided with the Union. 

"Johnson County Historic Courthouse Museum," Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area, (accessed 10/3/16) http://www.freedomsfrontier.org/Visitors/Sites/Comments.aspx?ID=66