In 1887, the red brick Newton County Courthouse in the center of the Square was less than 10 years old.

In 1887, the red brick Newton County Courthouse in the center of the Square was less than 10 years old.  
President Grover Cleveland was serving the first of his two terms in the White House. The United States leased Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu from Hawaii as a naval station. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show traveled to London. Celebrations were under way in Philadelphia for the 100th anniversary of the Constitution's conception.
In Neosho, the third Newton County Jail was completed on June 1.  Built from brick by the Pauley Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, the jail was designed to serve as both a home for the sheriff and as a jail.  The clay used in making the bricks came from a cave in what became Morse Park and were made locally by the Elliott Carnes Brick Factory.  The building was completed six months ahead of the original target date of Jan. 1, 1888 and the cost was $9,000.
The jail portion of the building has long since been razed but the jail included twelve cells designed to hold 2 prisoners in each for a total of 24. Female prisoners were held in two cells in the northeast corner of the sheriff's home.  If there were no female prisoners in residence, juvenile boys were also sometimes held in these cells.
The first sheriff to move into the facility was John Foster Shannon, who served as sheriff from 1887 until 1990. Shannon brought along his family including his wife, Cordelia, and his children. Mrs. Shannon, like the successive sheriff's wives, cooked for the prisoners as well as for her family.  Shannon was a Neosho native, born in 1850, and in addition to serving as sheriff, he was also postmaster, justice of the peace, police judge, and an alderman during his lifetime.  Shannon died on Dec. 12, 1930 at the age of 80 and is buried in Neosho's IOOF Cemetery.
The structure served as the county jail and sheriff's home until 1937, then the jail was moved to the then new courthouse which was built in 1936.  It became the local Social Security Office and the old jail was used for storage.  In 1956, the Social Security Officers moved to another location and the jail was removed to make a parking lot.
In 1958, the Newton County Court and the Newton County Historical Society agreed the structure could become a museum. The museum opened on Memorial Day Weekend in 1958.
Newton County Commissioners approved the addition of another lot to create a historical park.
The first addition to the park was the former Cedar Creek School, once located near the Cedar Creek Cemetery in rural Newton County. It was lasted used as a school in 1966  and today offers a look back in education in the past. The second structure to be added was the log cabin, donated by Clarence Bowler of Neosho.  Bowler's father and grandfather were born in the cabin, built in 1850.
Today, the Newton County Historical Museum houses an extensive collection of local and period items.
A Victorian era parlor fills one of the downstairs rooms. Other exhibits include military and farming equipment as well as household items. Their collections display pieces of the past so that future generations can have an idea of life before the 21st century.
During the annual Neosho Fall Festival each year, History Alley comes alive at the historical park.  Volunteers demonstrate old-fashioned crafts and techniques.  The museum, the school, and the log cabin are open for tours.
The Newton County Historical Museum is open weekdays from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday afternoons.  The museum is located at 121 North Washington Street, just north of the historic Neosho downtown Square.