Oldham County Historical Society & Museum
The Oldham County History Center is owned and operated by the Oldham County Historical Society. The Center is located on the block west of the Courthouse Square in LaGrange Kentucky. There are three buildings on the History Center property: J.C. Barnett Archives and Library, the Peyton Samuel Head Family Museum and the Robb Morris Chapel. The archives and museum buildings were erected in 1840. The church was built in 1880. The Archives building was owned by James and Amanda Mount during the Civil War. During this time "Aunt Amanda" received letters from her nephew, Amos Mount, who wrote about his experiences as a Union soldier during the Civil War. There letters are part of the Oldham County Historical Society Collections.
In the 1860 census for Kentucky, over 1/3 of people counted in Oldham County were of African American descent, primarily listed as slave property. These African American families contributed to the economy, culture and tradition of our community and established their American roots in our Kentucky soil. The untold stories of escape and capture were buried in the past but our continued efforts in research at the Oldham County History Center have revealed remarkable resistance, tenacity and courage of people seeking freedom and democracy.
Our J. Chilton Barnett Library & Archives on the history center campus has recently been added as a facility to the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. We house rare slave documents and papers, including bounty hunter papers issued for slaves from Amanda and James Mount, who lived in the archives building when it was their residence from 1840 through the early 1900s. Our archaeology program, Bibb Escapes/Gatewood Plantation has been added as a site to the National Park Service National Underground Railroad to Network to Freedom. We opened the site in 2007 because it was the last place that Bibb resided with his wife and daughter, until his final escape from Kentucky.
Our renovated museum, which re-opened in January 2016, challenges visitors to become “freedom seekers” as they learn about efforts of local people like slave/abolitionists Henry Bibb and Elijah Marrs as well as Abraham Lincoln’s friend, Richard Oglesby- to make our democracy stronger. The museum is now an official “National Park Service Passport Site” and offers “Junior Ranger Programs.”
At the history center we continue our research and have identified other significant places in our county in African American Heritage such as slave cemeteries, our Rosenwald Schools and slave holding farms such as Hermitage, Woodland and Mauvilla. Our unique position on the Ohio River involved a high level of commerce and trade during these important Antebellum years of American history. Visitors enjoy the use of our museum as well as the research available in our archives to explore genealogy and research our documents, papers and historic images.