Farm & Museum
A project of Mahaska County
Historical Society Inc.


 2211 Nelson Lane - P.O. Box 578 - Oskaloosa, Iowa 52577   Phone: (641) 672-2989
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Open May through September

10:00 am - 4:00 pm Tuesday thru Saturday

12:00 pm - 5:00 pm Sunday

Closed Monday


Buses and Tour Groups Welcome

Please make advance arrangements by calling  (641) 672-2989


Ask the Curator via e-mail

Bradbury Hall Inquiries via e-mail


Genealogy Library Hours

10:00 am - 1:00 pm Tuesday & Thursday

during open season


Admission Fees

$   7.00 - Adult

$   2.00 - Student (age 6-18)

    FREE - Child (5 & under, with adult)

    FREE - Historical Society Member

$   2.00 - K-12 Education Groups

$   5.00 - Groups of 10+


Daily Visits to the Farm

Explore our 14 historic structures and museum exhibits covering over a century of Mahaska County history. Our self-guided tour allows you the flexibility to explore at your own leisure and spend time in the buildings and exhibits that interest you most. We have an extensive collection of farm equipment and tools, spanning from draft powered implements to early tractors. Our buildings include a log cabin, blacksmith shop, general store, one-room schoolhouse, post office, doctor's office and stage stop, voting house, a Quaker meeting house, and a residence from Buxton-a coal mining community. You can also see our extensive quilt and military collection in the museum, in addition to Native American artifacts from the county.

Upcoming Events

Knots, Loops, and Other Twisted Crafts

Sat., June 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Meet artisans and demonstrators of historic and modern fiber crafts - including rope making, chair caning, crocheting and knitting, quilting, and spinning. Take and make crafts available for small fee.

Free admission, free will donations appreciated.

Dog Hollow Rendezvous

Nelson Pioneer Farm & Timberwolf Rendezvousers

Sat., August 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Sun., August 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Experience early 19th-century life with historic demonstrations, tomahawk and knife throws, authentic food and craft vendors, music, and a passionate group of re-enactors! Explore the buildings and museum at the Nelson Pioneer Farm in addition to the encampment. Family-friendly.

Free admission, donations appreciated.


The House That Daniel Built

Learn more about the Daniel Nelson brick home in this new program series. Once a month during our open season, there will be a featured program about the Nelson family, the materials used to build the home, and historic preservation. Interactive activities and crafts included in kid's programs.

All admission rates and donations from these activities will go towards our Nelson House Roof Rehabilitation Project that will be introduced during the Launch. More info about pricing coming soon.

Program Launch May 16, 6-7 PM, Free admission, donations appreciated

Board by Board June 20, 10 AM-12 PM, $10 per person

Brick by Brick July 11 & 25, 10 AM - 12 PM, $2 members, $5 non-members

Woods It to You? Aug. 8, 10 AM-12 PM, $10 per person - CANCELLED

Architectural Preservation Sept. 12, 6-7 PM, Free admission, donations appreciated  CANCELLED

Opening Day

Wed., May 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Enjoy new site-wide scavenger hunts for adults and students.  Get a membership and begin enjoying the site for the season.

Free admission; donations appreciated.


Laura's Days Family Activities - Registration Open

10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Admission:  $2 Society members, $5 non-members

Memberships available to purchase day of program and applied to that day's participation ($20 annual family membership)

All activities designed for children 5 and older, but younger siblings may come and participate as they can. At least one adult should accompany all participants during the program.

Space limited; registration required.  Registration: or call 641-672-2989 (leave a message if no one is available to answer the phone)

Week 1:

Tues. July 2 - Wagon Wheels and Races

Wed. July 3 - Outdoor Games

Fri. July 5 - Treasure Box and Indoor Games (all participants should bring a container of their choice to decorate for their treasure box)

Week 2:

Tues. July 9 - Write this Down:  Writing Implements with Ink

Wed. July 10 - Yarn Dyeing

Thurs. July 11 - Brick by Brick (Part of The House That Daniel Built program series)

Fri. July 12 - Fabric Fun:  Rag Rugs and Bookmarks

Sat. July 13 - All About Corn

Week 3:

Southern Iowa Fair - no activities planned

Week 4 (duplicated from Week 2):

Tues. July 23 - Write this Down:  Writing Implements with Ink

Wed. July 24 - Yarn Dyeing

Thurs. July 25 - Brick by Brick (Part of The House That Daniel Built program series)

Fri. July 26 - Fabric Fun:  Rag Rugs and Bookmarks

Sat. July 27 - All About Corn


Previous Events


Last Hurrah of Summer

Sun. Aug. 25 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Bring the entire family for an afternoon of old-fashioned fun!  Enjoy an ice social and vintage baseball featuring players from the Vintage Baseball Association. 

Bring your own picnic and lawn chairs, we'll provide dessert.  Lawn games will also be available to play.

Gates open at noon.  $5 per car.


54th Annual Fall Festival

Sat. September 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Join us for the Annual Fall Festival! Enjoy the field demos, parade, old-fashioned spelling bee, pioneer picnic, crafts, games, live music, and more! The Nelson Pioneer Farm's annual celebration of pioneer life is a fun day for all ages!

This year, our theme is 2019: Pioneer Spirit and Suffrage, in honor of the 100th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote. We are encouraging everyone to join us in the parade and would especially like to invite girls and women's groups to join our celebration this year.

Call Director/Curator Margaret at 641-672-2989 for questions or more information!

Thank you to our Sponsors!

Pony Ride - Clow Valve Co.

Old Fashioned  Spelling Bee - Mahaska Drug

Vintage Tractor Parade - Mahaska County Farm Bureau

Children's Crafts and Games - Town Square Dental Care

Pioneer Picnic - TruBank, HyVee

Advertising - Cablevey Conveyors, MCG

Printing - MidwestOne Bank, Langkamp Funeral Chapel & Crematory

Historic Buildings - Oskaloosa Vision Center, Oskaloosa Chiropractic, McKim Tractor Service, Five Points Heritage Farms, Doty's Computers

Volunteer Services - Mahaska

General Event - State Bank of Bussey, Kelderman Manufacturing

Schedule (subject to change)

9:30      Flag Raising

9:40      Buildings and site open until closing

10:00   North Field demonstrations until 12 pm

10:00   Alice’s Gospel Group on Hay Bale Stage

10:30   Kid’s Spelling Bee in Prine School

11:00   Adult Spelling Bee in Prine School

11:00-1:00 Pioneer Picnic in Bradbury Hall—enter through east door

12:00-3:00 Pony rides open

12:30 Hymn Sing in Coal Creek Friends Meeting House

1:30 Vintage Machinery Parade

2:30 Scripture Memorization Exercise in Prine School

2:30 North Field demonstrations until 4:30 p.m.

3:00 Sawmill Demonstration

3:30 Hymn Sing in Coal Creek Friends Meeting House

4:30 Closing

All day activities:

Craft Barn—chair caning, kid’s crafts, bread & butter, taffy  making, honey vendor

Barnyard—petting zoo, rope making, book vendors

Schoolyard—Mahaska Master’s 4-H lawn games and bake sale

Vendors, interpreters, and demonstrators around and inside historic buildings

Special notes:

Buxton author Rachelle Chase will be in the Buxton House all day with her new book!




Kid's Day Camps

Nelson Pioneer Farm & Mahaska County Conservation

Tues. July 30 from 10:00 a.m. to Noon

Wed. July 31 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Thurs. Aug. 1 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday - Preschool Pioneer Day Camp available for ages 5 and younger.  The morning will explore foodways through a tasting and sensory table, barnyard petting zoo, and plant and take your own seed activities. Historic games will also be available for kids and families to enjoy.  Adults are asked to stay with their child during the activities.  $10 per participating child. Younger siblings welcome. 

Limit 20. To register:


Wednesday - Pioneer Day Camp for kids 6-9 years.  Make and eat your own mulligan stew from a Dutch Oven!  Bring a vegetable to add to the stew.  Games, guided tour of the Farm buildings, and Cherokee leaf pounding craft all are part of the fun. Bring your own water bottle and lunch. $10 per participating child. 

Limit 20. To register:


Thursday - All About Coal Camp for kids 10 and older.  Explore Mahaska County’s rich coal mining history through a Buxton House artifact tour, meet a mule, try your hand at blacksmithing, and make and take charcoal art project.  Bring your own sack lunch, water bottle, and be sure to wear non-synthetic clothes and close-toed shoes for blacksmithing! $10 per participating child. 

Limit 20. To register:


A Wartime Christmas

Sunday, December 8 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Bring your family and friends to an afternoon coffee time of family and community. Live Christmas music will get you in the holiday spirit while you enjoy vintage board games and crafts/activities around Bradbury Hall.  Be sure to write a Christmas card for our active servicemen and women.

Coffee, tea, and cocoa will be available with sweet treats.

Free admission; donations appreciated.


Annual Membership Meeting

Mon. February 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Bradbury Hall

We encourage you to bring a friend who may be interested in joining the Historical Society.

Potluck begins at 6:30.  Bring a dish to pass and your own table service. Water and coffee provided.

Annual reports and updates from Board of Directors and Trustees to follow, as well as a brief business meeting to approve the 2020 budget.

No program; memorial service to deceased members and friends will start after business meeting.

Those being remembered:

- Margaret Ademeit

- Elizabeth "Betty" Barnard

- Janice DeBoef

- Leland E. Fynaardt

- Henrietta Groenenboom

- Kenneth Groenenboom

- Marilyn N. Herny

- Harry Arthur Johnson

- Esther Lucille Kempenaar

- Ellen L. Sears Kentfield

- Evelyn Cherry Kinsinger

- Antonette "Ann" Marie Schultz

- Florence K. Sterk

- Judy Swanson

- Wilbur Veenstra

Family and friends of those above are welcome to join our memorial.