There are over 10,000 items in the Pioneer Music Museum. In the top right hand corner of the above photo you will see the suit that Bill Monroe wore on the very last show he did for the Grand Ole Opry., as well as a mandolin very like his first one. Also see one of Woody Guthrie's guitars and a host of old-time country music memories throughout the museum. Look for one of Bill Anderson's guitars. Find the original Martin guitar that was used for the Jimmie Rodgers model. See the rhythm guitar used by Spade Cooley's guitarist - Find an old acoustic guitar Hank Williams Sr. strummed - Take a look at a 12-string guitar like Lead Belly's - See Rhonda Vincent's first mandolin - There are over 150 fiddles to view in the Fiddler's Hall of Fame..
About the same time Bob Everhart was earning his first fifty cents singing country music he was planning his first old-time music, he was also becoming a serious collector of old-time musical instruments. That makes the Pioneer Music Museum start up date 70 years ago. Bob was eventually president of the Cornhusker Country Music Club in Louisville, Nebraska, which he formed in 1970 at the time, a non-profit organization he devoted tremendous amounts of volunteer time, money, and devotion to. He even wrote their Articles of Incorporation 501(c)3 for non-profit IRS status. At the same time, the very old Ogden Hotel in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was about to be torn down. They had an auction of various items dating back to the days when Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant stayed there. The hotel is long gone, but Everhart came away with several items of historical significance. He got some drapery tie-backs from the room that Lincoln stayed in, a few other knick-knacks, and his most precious purchase, an early unmarked Martin guitar, that was later to become the pattern used for the famous Jimmie Rodger's model. The guitar became the focal point of his collection. It is now prominently displayed in the Pioneer Music Museum, which also contains America's Old Time Music Hall of Fame, and America's Old Time Fiddler's Hall of Fame. The museum is a one-of-a-kind museum representing a historical music survival emporium of Iowa and the upper Midwest. All of the collections you see in the museum are a true representation of musical life on the Great Plains and prairie lands of the 'entire' upper Midwest. As Everhart's collection grew, and other people became interested in what he was doing, more and more interesting old time musical pieces of historical interest were placed on display. Everhart developed a theory about how music entered Iowa, and how it was experienced from its very beginning. Nature of course, bird songs, quickly followed by natives who inhabited the land. Then music from fur traders, settlers, pioneers, homesteaders, and others who penetrated the state. Everhart used 'direction' to help exemplify his theory. How did the music penetrate Iowa from the East, the North, the South, and the West? This rather long treatise Everhart wrote is available, simply contact him for a copy of it.
Once through the explanations of how music entered the State of Iowa, Everhart likes to show a special display of stringed instruments that were invented in the United States, however many of them did not become very popular because they were so difficult to play. The Ukelin, for example, was sold door to door in the late 20's and early 30's by unscrupulous sales people who had learned to play at least one song effectively. They unloaded the instrument on rural folks who thought the songs they played were pretty, but after long trial and tribulation trying to duplicate the 'beauty' of the salesman's demonstrations and failing miserably, the instrument went promptly to the attic There are no less than 12 of these instruments on display in the museum. Everhart points out other interesting harp like instruments and zithers one in particular called the "Great North American Magical Mystery Music Machine,' which was played by sliding a 'picking' board back and forth across the strings. According to Everhart, 'the picking board made more noise than the strings did.' One instrument Everhart likes to demonstrate himself is the Tremoloa. "I've only seen one other in a museum and that was in Roy Acuff's museum in Nashville. It's extremely difficult to describe, it has one string down the right side of the instrument plucked with a plectrum which is attached to a folding steel bar apparatus that moves up and down the single string. On the left side of the instrument are various sets of four strings in accompanying chords. It's not so difficult to play actually, and it's quite pretty if it's in good tune and played well. You can also see unusual instruments like a one-stringed instrument made from a sardine fish can. It was small and was primarily stuffed in a large overcoat to be brought out and played at an illegal speak-easy during prohibition so that singing could prevail with at least one small musical instrument. Other instruments on display is one containing a harmonica and strings you strum at the same time, another early Sears & Roebuck catalog instrument has difficult overlapping strings picked with both hands. Everhart's number of unusual instruments number near 50, and all are on display. The two Halls of Fame; America's Old Time Music Hall of Fame and America's Old Time Fiddler's Hall of Fame, consists of a host of personal donations by super stars. There are over 150 fiddles in the Fiddler's Hall of Fame. Everhart suspects there are now well over 1,000 well known and relatively well known super stars with items in the museum. For the past 42 years Everhart believe at least 3,000 deserving individuals have been honored with Hall of Fame inductions. Please visit the 'Halls of Fame' page for more information about these talented and gifted artists.
SOME OF THE ITEMS ON DISPLAY AT THE PIONEER MUSIC MUSEUM
The original Jimmie Rodgers style Martin guitar
The Carter Family songbook, a paper fan from one of their concerts, and a dish of Mother Maybelles
Elsie McWilliams centennial dish (she wrote most of Jimmie Rodger's songs)
Johnny Cash's harmonicas
June Carter Cash's autoharp fingerpicks
Patsy Montana's Fender guitar (the guitar was stolen, but we still have Patsy's guitar case it was in)
Bradley Kincaid's 'Hound-dog' guitar, and his songbook
Bill Monroe's suit that he wore on his last performance on the Grand Ole Opry, and his GOO tie-tack pin
Jimmy Martin's boyhood guitar
Roy Acuff's popular powder blue performance jacket from the Grand Ole Opry
Marvin Rainwater's autographed guitar
Randall Franks Georgia fiddle bow
Billy Byrd's lap steel guitar (he played for Ernest Tubb)
Charlie Louvin's Harmony guitar and performance suit
Albert Brumley's necktie and tie-tack
Spade Cooley's rhythm guitarist's Gretsch guitar
Johnny Western's autographed guitar, and suit he wore on "Have Gun Will Travel"
Redd Stewart and Pee Wee King's tape recorder they used to write the "Tennessee Waltz" on
Claude Gray's autographed "Decca" guitar from the Decca Record Company
Woody Guthrie's guitar (a special gift from his widow Marjorie Guthrie)
Tommy Overstreet's practice guitar
Freddy Hart's GOLD RECORD of "Easy Lovin"
Terry Smith's boots, jacket, pipe, and original music. He wrote "Far Side Banks of Jordan" for Johnny Cash
Don Edwards autographed cowboy guitar
Joe Babcock's Hee-Haw shirt
George Hamilton IV's autographed guitar
Margo Smith's Grand Ole Opry performance suit
Little Jimmy Dicken's neckerchief
Stella Parton's (Dolly's sister) autographed Stella guitar
Johnny Horton's trout fly casting rod he used when fishing with his pal Hank Williams
An old acoustic guitar the owner said Hank Williams once played on in Alabama
Rhonda Vincent's early autographed mandolin
Jimmy C. Newman's small autographed Cajun guitar
Ernie Ashworth's autographed guitar
Charlie McCoy's harmonicas
Red Steagall's neckerchief
Jack Greene's autographed guitar
Stan Hitchcock's performance suit and book
Bill Anderson's autographed practice guitar
Patti Page's autographed miniature piano
AND MUCH MUCH MORE, over 10,000 items of our valuable old time country music past.
Please join our Association, help us keep this traditional treasure alive and well.