‘Selected’ At Shiloh

‘Selected’ At Shiloh

Guest curators celebrate museum’s half-centennial


It’s huge and heavy, black and white, a monstrosity of a machine that no businessman could even imagine using nowadays. After all, our phones have calculators on them, right? This adding machine — state of the art in its time — is just a piece of the past of a little town called Pettigrew.

It’s also part of “Selected,” one of three exhibits this year celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale. The concept was to ask “guest curators” — representing “different museum audiences” — to showcase objects that spoke to each of them.

Bob Besom, the museum’s director emeritus, chose a scrapbook. Monte Harris, an educator at the Rogers Historical Museum, picked a quilt. KUAF’s Kyle Kellams selected a school pennant from Winslow to recall a time when smaller communities “were defined, perhaps even anchored, by the school.”

And then there’s the adding machine. It reflects the Martin family’s lifelong relationship with — and commitment to — the history of Madison County. It was sold at the auction of the contents of Pettigrew’s Mooney-Barker Drug Store in 1986.

For 40 years from 1897 until 1937, the fortunes of Pettigrew turned along with the Frisco freights which came from Fayetteville to export the bounty of the timber-laden Madison County hills. For most of those years — and well beyond — the Mooney-Barker Drug Store was a landmark, offering medical care, groceries, Nehi grape soda at the ornate marble soda fountain and country needs from axle grease to gun powder. As it too neared the end of the line, it became a time capsule, filled year by year by fate and the townsfolk it served.

People came from all over the region to buy a little piece of history at the auction — an operating table, Model T parts, a Magnolia Oil Co. sign. One of Helen Mooney Barker’s sons in Ohio kept the teller’s cage, which her husband A.P. Barker acquired in a lawsuit against the Bank of Pettigrew when it collapsed in 1931. The soda fountain had already gone to Har-Ber Village, a museum in Grove, Okla. And many, many items went to the Shiloh Museum, thanks to the partnership forged between its director and Helen Mooney Barker’s grandson, Wayne Martin, who was passionate about the preservation of Pettigrew’s past.

Martin, who died in 2010, always worked to preserve the history of Pettigrew, whether that meant raising funds for the one-room school turned community building, visiting students to talk about the timber industry, donating or loaning pieces of the past for exhibits at the museum or spearheading Pettigrew Day, the annual homecoming and celebration of the town’s boom days. The adding machine was chosen to remember him, and this story was “Selected” to run this month because June 17 is Father’s Day — and he was my dad in everything but blood.




WHEN — 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, throughout 2018

WHERE — Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale

COST — Free

INFO — 750-8165

Categories: Galleries, Uncategorized