Important aspects of life in the early days of Raytown are depicted in permanently staged rooms around the Museum. Press the black buttons below for related video tours given by our President Charlotte Belger.
William Ray, an enterprising blacksmith from Ohio, came to this area in January 1848 and established a shop on Santa Fe Road, now the corner of 63rd and Raytown Road. Blacksmiths were critical tradesmen at this time when pioneers encountered rough terrain on the trail. William Ray wisely set up his shop a full day's journey from Independence, Missouri, when travelers would require his services.
Our blacksmith shop displays the kind of tools that William Ray would have needed to service his customers. As one example, you will find giant bellows used to encourage the fire to heat and bend iron required to repair wagon wheels or fit oxen with shoes. Our display includes many types of harnesses and primitive sharpening tools.
The earliest of schools consisted of one teacher to instruct several grade levels. A typical setup was a single room with handmade desks, a wood stove, very few books, a community water bucket and ladle, and slates for writing instead of paper.
Students walked or rode horses to school. Girls were likely to get more education than boys, as boys were needed on their family's farm to help at planting season and harvest time.
As many of the pioneer families decided to make their homes in the area, the need for general goods grew. Small merchant stores began to pop up. All sorts of items were sold from food for themselves to food for their animals. Other necessities such as cooking tools and dishware, material to make clothes, and medicines were available.
In our representation of a General Store, we have a cabinet holding receipts that served as an early accounting system. Many times, bartering was used instead of currency. Farmers would trade their butter, cheese, eggs, vegetables, or other foods for store items.
Located on the 2nd floor of the Museum is a section dedicated to the homemaker over time. This strange-looking machine is a Kenmore Ironer popular in the 1940s and 50s. An 1884 treadle sewing machine is also on display alongside a wooden ironing board with sadirons, a washboard, a carpet beater, and a sock knitter. We can accurately call the woman of the day a domestic engineer. She was in charge of the home and expected to look good at the end of the day too.