The objects that comprise the Miami County Museum collection include items from the original settlers that established Miami County. Much of our early pioneer collection consists of necessary day-to-day homestead items, such as cast iron pots, spinning wheels and walking wheels, candle molds, hackels (a.k.a. hatchels), scutcheons, baby cradles, and more.
The Miami County Museum also has a substantial collection of artifacts related to specific trades, including those from farmers, coopers, milliners, cobblers, and others. You can see many of these tools in our historic business recreations on the second floor of the Museum.
Miami County’s rich and diverse history has made the Miami County Museum the cultural gem that it is today. Beyond our pioneer heritage, our object collections are also supported through our extensive circus, Native American, railroad, and Cole Porter holdings.
Miami County is in part built upon the memories of the circus. The original winter quarters serves as the backbone of this area, supporting the first home of the world renowned Hagenback-Wallace Circus. Our circus collection includes wagons and wagon decorations, costumes, costume props, makeup kits, elephant hooks and harnesses, and more! The rich history of the circus can be relived through our collection, making it truly come alive for all visitors.
Native Americans (including the Miami Indians and other Woodland tribes)
Within our collection, we have hundreds of stone tools, many of which are on display. In addition we have objects from Francis Slocum and Gabriel Godfroy. The robust contributions of these two notable Miami families have had a substantial impact on local history, which has made collecting and preserving the artifacts of the Native American tribes in Miami County a priority since the Museum began. Some of the specific artifacts that we have within our collection include Francis Slocum’s single dueling pistol, a skull-cracker circus prop from Chief Sitting Bull, and a bow and arrows from Gabriel Godfroy.
The history of our county and nation has been upheld by the sacrifices and devotion of local citizens. The Miami County Historical Society’s immense military collection is strengthened by the donated objects from local community members, including helmets, uniforms, military badges and awards, and firearms. We have military items from the Revolutionary War through Desert Storm.
This musical legend, recognized worldwide, was born and lived his first eight years here in Peru. Fortunately, a multitude of his treasures and accolades have made their way back home. One of Cole Porter’s couches, his Grammy, and his restored 1955 Fleetwood Cadillac (down to the CP logo on the back seat doors!) are featured in the Cole Porter display on the first floor of the Miami County Museum. Many of Cole Porter’s personal household possessions make up the remainder of his objects at the Museum.
Many of the unique and unseen artifacts that are in our decorative arts category include ceramic art, glassware, furniture, jewelry, textile arts (including our vast coverlet collection) and woodwork. Within the Decorative Arts collection you can find clothing associated with Miami County sports, men’s and women’s clothing, and hats showcasing the changing trends through the years.
Early pioneers who settled in Miami County transported necessary items many miles from their original homes. These items, which comprise our pioneer collection, included spinning wheels and walking wheels, looms, copper and cast iron pots and metal kitchen utensils, as well as agriculture and farming tools and equipment. Of notoriety are the 100+ spinning wheels and over 25 large walking wheels. The history that traveled with the early settlers have stayed within the county and are on display for all to enjoy.
MCHS Founder Collection
Judge Hal C. Phelps’ and Caroline Puterbaugh’s collections comprise of the first twenty years of objects that were either donated or collected by them. The pioneer, Native American, and circus artifacts were collected and procured by these two individuals through their connections and friendships with many of the early Miami County community members. These artifacts set the standard for what we continue to collect.