Continuing the series of Iowa’s hidden genealogical treasures:
Mahaska County Genealogy and Historical Library
Nelson Pioneer Farm
2211 Nelson Lane, PO Box 578
Phone: 641-672-2989 (phone answered year round)
Facility open May through September or by appointment.
I was very fortunate on the day of my visit. Information I had indicated that the facility was open until the end of October. In reality it isn’t. The curator happened to be working outside that morning and contacted the librarian who was able to come help me.
The library has numerous county district court docket books, probate indexes and inventories, which have most likely been microfilmed and are available elsewhere. I saw militia registration books, family histories, area newspaper clippings, such as birth, marriage, and a large collection of obituaries and cemetery indexes along with pictures of the stones at Centennial/Dunsmore and Spring Creek Friends Cemetery. Also, don’t underestimate the military collection which includes Civil War and WWI letters. The shelves include Oskaloosa city directories and phone books as well as pictures and year books for schools and William Penn College/University. Mahaska County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee records, pictures, scrapbooks are found here. Also included are funeral memorial cards from Bates, Garland-VanArkel-Langkamp, and Powers Funeral Homes.
In addition, the library has a large collection of country school records, original cards for WPA cemetery surveys, Quaker yearly meeting minutes, sizeable collection of information on coal mines and some information on underground railroad. I also found early naturalizations, assessors books, and in the back room is a large collection of original newspapers.
There is no computer in this library and apparently the society has not made any plans to digitize anything. The library is not heated during cold weather except when someone has an appointment to visit.
This is an exceptional library that needs greater accessibility, more technology, and more climate control with a stonger emphasis on preserving the collection.