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Boone museum needs our help
March 27, 2007
By Dwain Lair, Times Editor
Harrison High School building, 1915The Boone County Heritage Museum needs our help. The call for assistance goes beyond paid $20 memberships for couples, donations of historic documents and family memorabilia, or $2 visits to the museum.

The museum has been offered an anonymous $10,000 donation, but museum officials must match that amount. The museum board then hopes to use the $20,000 as its lure for winning a state grant that could help pay for needed repairs that are estimated to cost $100,000.
If you haven’t visited the museum, you’ve missed a sense of our heritage. All you have to do is drive past the museum on the corner of Central Avenue and South Cherry.
The Boone County Heritage Museum is housed in the 1912 Harrison High School, a structure that recently was added to the National Historic Register.
If most of the 95-year-old building’s life was devoted to teaching students, it had a busy nine months each year.
Now the Boone County Heritage Museum board is in charge of maintaining and operating the facility.
The museum board secured enough funding a few years ago to heat and cool the second and third floors. Ken Allen then donated supplies and labor to update the heating and cooling for the first floor.
But the museum’s infrastructure problems are more severe than heating and cooling. Masonry between the bricks is crumbling and dissolving.
The historic building was constructed of brick and tile roof 95 years ago and still is structurally sound.
But museum director Marilyn Breece said the problems are more than mortar deep. In fact, the mortar between the bricks has eroded so much over the past 95 years that rain can actually blow between the bricks.
The museum also needs new guttering and downspouts to transport water away from the building, and the list of needs to update a 95-year-old structure goes on and on.
Henry Starr showcaseWhy should we be concerned about preserving our past?

I always pause at the first exhibit in the museum. The rifle that killed Oklahoma badman Henry Starr hangs behind protective glass, and a mirror reflects the “STARR” carved into the gun carried by the bank robber.

Also in the exhibit are photographs of Starr, including one taken of his body in a casket; the bloody bandana he wore into the Harrison bank; and wanted posters and other documents and memorabilia.

Behind the wall is the most extensive collection of Missouri & North Arkansas Railway paraphernalia in the world. You can inspect china that served food on its passenger cars, tickets, locks and keys, uniforms, schedules, lanterns and bells, even a ticket station.

Each room in the museum is dedicated to a specific topic, such as medical, Indian artifacts, clocks, Civil War, research, manufacturing, military and others. One room is devoted to the Harrison public schools, with even yearbooks, uniforms, pictures and other school memorabilia, and the genealogy library.
Volunteers are always willing to help you research a topic, or you can putter up and down the stairs, gaining a glimpse into local life at any time period.
Back to my fascination with Henry Starr. He reportedly started robbing banks on horseback in 1893 and ended up in Harrison on Feb. 18, 1921. During that time, he was a horse thief, train robber and was convicted of murder and twice sentenced by Judge Isaac Parker to hang. His bank robberies netted him thousands.
The gang stole $6,000 in Harrison, and the “King of Bank Robbers” was fatally wounded inside the bank on the southwest corner of the Square.
The Cherokee Badman reportedly netted more than $60,000 from more than 21 bank robberies before he died Feb. 22, 1921, in a cell in the old Boone County Jail (now the Sanctuary).
You can contact the museum for donations. They’re much more pleasant to deal with than Henry Starr.
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