If you, or someone you know, likes to buy and read books about the War Between the States, there is a hotspot source right here in Newton County, and the money goes toward a good cause. 

The antebellum Ritchey Mansion in Newtonia has a collection of books for sale, the quality of which I was surprised at. 

While showing an out of town guest around our little area recently, we stopped, of course, at the Ritchey Mansion. Luckily I happen to catch resident caretaker Jim Ridenour in a window of time when he was available to open the house up for a quick tour. Normally I would have called him first and made arrangements, but this was sort of a spur of the moment thing, and I didn’t expect he would be available at that time of day and week. 

The book sale collection has certainly expanded since I last visited back in February. There are many books about various aspects of the war, but my favorites are the ones pertaining to the war in this general area. Some are more local than others. You can purchase a detailed history of the war in Newton County (which is also available at the Newton County Museum), or a book specifically on the First and Second Battles of Newtonia, or a number of small booklets that pertain to the battles there or the house or Ritchey family itself. 

Those have almost always been available. What I found the other day was that many other books have been added. I picked up, for $10, a biography on General Thomas C. Hindman, who was in command of Confederate forces at the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. I almost ordered that same book online awhile back, and I’m glad I didn’t so I could buy it at the Ritchey Mansion. 

I could have purchased many more books that same day, and I want to go back soon and buy them. 

Proceeds from the book sales go to the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association, which owns the Ritchey Mansion and part of the first battlefield. It takes money to upkeep the house and pay for utilities. Every dollar counts for sure. 

I have a bit of a book buying addiction, I admit. If you do too, drop by the Ritchey Mansion sometime. I don’t think they are letting big groups in yet, because of the corona virus scare, but individuals or pairs are probably Ok. Get in touch with Jim at 417-540-1574.

-Wes Franklin writes a weekly column, That History Guy, for The Neosho Daily News.