Heritage Center Open Tuesdays and Thursday Afternoons


The  McGowan House Museum is open for tours May through September 1:00-4:00PM.


The Heritage Center is open for research, genealogy, book shopping and all kinds of Adams County historical information Tuesdays and Thursdays from Noon to 5:00 pm.


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2004 Baseball Reunion

Over the last 50 years: 2004 The Historical Society hosted a reunion of league baseball teams that played in Adams from 1930-2000’s. Pictured below: 1. Bob Ebert, Chief Williams, Ken Romell, Deke Kunkee & Burt Morris, 2. Burt Morris, Dick Colby and Bob Garnett, 3. Roberta Ebert and Chief Williams, 4. Doug Renner, Bob Ebert, Chuck Pollex, Chief Williams and Ken Romell.

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2022 Holiday Happening

2020 Holiday Happening “I Remember When …”    from Adams-Friendship Times Reporter







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Adams County History Museum


Adams County History Museum

In the Adams County Heritage Center, 311 Main Street, Friendship, Wisconsin.

Upper Level

After nearly three years in the making,  our Adams County History Museum is now open.

It has been a long journey.

It started with our elevator and the fund-raising necessary to install it. Over a period of three years, our supporters contributed over $180,000 for the elevator, plus a handicap-accessible bathroom and other remodeling at our Heritage Center.

It continued with the commissioning of the professionally produced Adams County, Of Place and Time video history of our county. It was completed early in 2020, just before the Covid pandemic forced us to close our sites to the public.

We then decided to make lemonade out of lemons and use the down time to set up our museum. After two and a half years of researching, collecting, building and preparing photos, art and artifacts for display, we are ready to open.

Anyone who visits our Heritage Center can reach the Museum the old-fashioned way, up the front stairway or via our new elevator. Donors to the Elevator Fund can take pride in riding in what they helped to purchase and install. Before getting in the elevator, they can look for their names mounted on the Elevator Fund Donors Door. It is our way o saying Thank You.

A museum tour starts with a viewing of the Of Place and Time video, which summarizes our county history in 22 minutes. You can see it on the big screen downstairs.

Upstairs, visitors will find two large galleries containing 28 separate exhibits. They range from the “Glacial Legacy” to the “Ho Chunk Return” to “The Origin of County Place Names” and more in one gallery. The second gallery has exhibits on “Village Life,” “The Railroad,” “Parades and Festivals,” “A-F Speedway,” ‘Leading Women” and more. Another entire room is devoted to the men and women from our county who have served in the military from the Civil War to today.

In addition, there are dozens of extra-large photos and maps mounted on the walls around the building, as well as mini-exhibits both upstairs and down.

We have not counted them all, but we estimate that we have several hundred photos, works of art and artifacts on display.

Adams County may be a “small” place, but it has a big history. We have done our best to exhibit it.

Come share it with us when the center is open Tuesdays and Thursdays afternoons

Some of the exhibits to be seen at the Adams County Museum


Heritage Center’s new elevator




Step inside and press 2 to enter the Adams County History Museum






Split Black Ash basket made by Maude Decorah












E Nuk Ka Ho No Kah, Maude Decorah with her son Joshua Sanford











Built in 1881 on West Street in Friendship, St. Leo's was the first Catholic church in the county. It was succeeded by St. Joseph's in Adams in 1922

Traditional Bohemian Costume

St. Leo’s Catholic Church
in Friendship












Celebration at Bohemian Hall (Initials are for the Czech words)



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Historical Center Book Shop takes on Look of Friendship State Bank

The Friendship State Bank lives again


The Friendship State Bank was the first bank in Adams County.  The bank was housed in the Gunning-Purvis Office Building in Friendship that is now the Adams County Historical Society’s Adams County Heritage Center.  The bank opened in 1910, soon after the building opened. The bank closed in 1936 during the depression as did many, but the old bank vault and the safe inside it remained.  The ornate cage that the tellers stood behind and dealt with depositors behind the bars was taken out when the bank closed. It was ruined some years later in storage.

Now an antique bank cage was found and installed.  The new cage makes the book shop in the Center look like it could be a set for a 1930’s movie.



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Check out “Adams County Tales”

Click on the “Adams County Tales” at the top of this page.  You will see a list of short articles telling about events from the rich history of Adams County.  The article series is a work in progress so there will be more pictures, expanded articles and all new articles yet to come.  In the meantime among the current articles you will learn …..


  • how the railroad first came to Adams County after every other county in the state had its own rail service

  • how a fellow who had such an enjoyable childhood in Adams County that he brought a factory to Adams building aluminum and stainless steel boats,

  • how a local boy won fame as a major league baseball player only to die a tragic death,

  • and many more tales from the rich history of Adams County.

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“Friendship, Wisconsin – A History” Now in Second Printing



Local author Dennis McFarlin’s  newly published book Friendship, Wisconsin – A History is now available for sale SOLD OUT at the Adams County Historical Society’s Heritage Books & Gifts at 311 Main Street, Friendship, Wisconsin.  A second printing is in the works. You can reserve a two-volume copy with a $60 deposit at the gift shop or through the mail at the address below. Non-refundable deposit will be applied to the final purchase.

The two volume Friendship, Wisconsin – A History chronicles the history of a small village in central Wisconsin. Dennis M. McFarlin grew up in Friendship and experienced first-hand life in the village for fifty years. McFarlin’s discussion of the book should be of interest to students of history, genealogists, and particularly to those persons who live in Friendship today or grew up in the village or its surrounds.


The book is 934 pages, with 600 photographs and images.  Because the book is intended as a research source, the author has provided over 10,000 endnotes to guide the reader to additional resources.  An extensive index is provided.

Volume One of the book presents a history of the village through subject categories, such a education, health care, government, lifestyle,  and the early geologic history of the area.

Volume Two of the book presents a history of the village through a block-by-block review of the businesses that operated in the village from its inception in 1856.

Friendship, Wisconsin – A History may be reserved by mail.

Send $60 to reserve a second printing copy to

Adams County Historical Society, PO BOX 264, Friendship, WI 53934

Leave your contact information so that we can contact you when copies are available

Full price is $125 plus $10 shipping.



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Local History Books on Sale in Society’s Heritage Books & Gifts shop.

The books listed below are in stock and on sale at the Adams County Historical Society’s Heritage Books & Gifts shop, 311 Main Street, Friendship, Wisconsin. 
The books are also available by mail; send remittance with name and address to Adams county Historical Society, PO Box 264, Friendship, WI 53934.  Add $5  per individual book for shipping and handling unless different shipping and handling fee is indicated.  (e.g., Add $50 for the two volume “Friendship Wisconsin – a History”)



“A COMMUNITY COOKBOOK” By Ladies Aid Society of the Friendship Congregational Church. A reprint of the 1934 cookbook of Local Cook’s recipes. $4.00

ADAMS COUNTY COOKERY – PAST TO PRESENT” By Adams County Historical Society.  A collection of County Recipes. $5.00

“ADAMS COUNTY LAND ATLAS – 2012-2013” By Adams County 4-H Leaders Assoc, Inc. $10.00

“ADAMS COUNTY AT WAR” by Gordon K. Klaus. This book contains the Civil War letters that Adams County native Pvt./Capt. Charles Bassett wrote home while serving with Co. E, 16th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Included is a roster of Company E’s original members. $20.00

“A-F SPEEDWAY, STEEL FENDERS-GOLDEN MEMORIES” A DVD Hosted by Bill Holland with film, interviews, stories from the History of A-F Speedway. A wonderful combination! $35.00.  Mail: Add $10.00 shipping and handling

“A YEAR OF CHAMPIONS – 1996 GREEN BAY PACKERS” Remembered by Gilbert Brown by Chris Havel $10.00

“BREWERIES OF WISCONSIN” By Jerry Apps.  A history of Beer making, location of breweries, etc. $2.00

“FAR FROM HERE” By Barbara Cranford.  A book of poetry. $14.00

“FOOD FOR THOUGHT”  Edited by Brian Skinner. A collection of work by Adams-Friendship area young authors and illustrators. $4.00 

“FRIENDSHIP WISCONSIN – A HISTORY”  by Dennis M. McFarlin. A two volume set presenting the history of a small village in Adams County in central Wisconsin. Volume One of the book presents the history of the village through subject categories, such as education, health care, government, lifestyle, and the early geologic history of the area. Volume Two presents a block-by-block review of the businesses that operated in the village from its inception in 1856.   Having 934 pages, with 600 photos and images 10,000 endnotes, it is meant as a research source. The Book store price is $150.00.  Available by mail: Add $50.00 shipping and handling ($200.00 total) for each two volume set.

FROM PAST TO PRESENT” A comprehensive history of Adams County by Michael Goc. $20.00

“THE GOOD OLD DAYS – WERE THEY REALLY?” By Eunice Kanne. $4.00

HERO OF THE RED RIVERThe life and times of Joseph Bailey by Michael J. Goc. A Collections of letters discovered in an old Wisconsin Dells building was the catalyst for this history of Colonel Joseph Bailey who owned a small farm in southern Adams county. His friend, a local attorney who stayed behind after Joseph entered the Civil War had saved them and gives an eye opening portrait of a man who accomplished much in his military career. $12.00

“THE HISTORY OF A-F SPEEDWAY” by Matt McLaughlin (Well documented history of an Adams County favorite. Many wild characters and even wilder racing!) $30.00

“JAMES MILTON MAGINNIS – HIS CHILDREN AND THEIR DESENDANTS” By Judith Maginnis Kuster and Betty M Styer. Genealogy. Family of Maginnis, Styer and others. $20.00

“K” A GIRLS LIFE IN FRIENDSHIP DURING 1905 & 1906. by Sharon Hart Addy for the Adams County Historical Society about young Katherine McGowan who became a teacher and Supervising Teacher overseeing the many schools in this rural county. $10.00

“LOOKING BACK” by Walter J. Kappel. The middle son of Austrian immigrants tells of his life from 1914 through WWII.  $10.00

“MAGGIE MARIE’S MERMAID TAIL” By Heidi Marie Herriot. Children’s’ book. Dedicated to the “Wee Ones Everywhere.” $12.50

“MURDER IN ADAMS COUNTY” by Merlyn Ruphus. The notoriety of Adams County as ‘The Murder Capital of the United States’ is documented in this fascinating book. $25.00. By mail shipping and handling $10.00 ($35.00 total)

 “NEW CHESTER” by Barbara Morgan (A history of this small community and the surrounding country) $8.00

“OF WIND & WILLOW” By Clara Kirkwood. Friendship poems. $1.50

“ONE-ROOM COUNTRY SCHOOLS” By Jerry Apps. History and recollections from Wisconsin. $10.00

“ONE-ROOM SCHOOL DAYS” By Otto J. Shipla. Autobiography of life as a pupil, teacher, and teacher-trainer. $10.00

“OUT OF THE BLUE” Edited by Brian Skinner. Another collection of work by Adams-Friendship area young authors and illustrators. $4.00 

“POWER IN MANY HANDS” by Michael Goc. Tells the story of Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative and of the communities it serves in twelve central Wisconsin counties. The beginnings of local REA services. $20.00

“RED MAGIC SHAG” By Bart Downey. Yard sale carpet turns magic. $15.00

“RAILROAD MEMORIES – ADAMS AND THE C&NW – AN ORAL HISTORY”  Edited by Michael Goc.  Interviews by Adams County Historical Society members and others about the railroad and Adams.  With illustrations. $10.00

 “ROCHE-A-CRI TO TRINITY” (The History of Trinity Lutheran Church in Arkdale, WI.) $10.00

“ROCKETS LIKE RAIN” By Dale E. Reich.  Story of author’s year in Vietnam. $10.00

“SOME QUIET PLACE” By Barbara Cranford. Poetry book. $14.00

“SOUTH BURR OAK HISTORY 1898-1998” By the South Burr Oak Congregation. History of South Burr Oak United Methodist Church, Coloma, WI. $10.00

“SUSAN ANGELINE COLLINS: WITH A HALLELUJAH HEARTBy Janis Bennington VanBuren. Explores the life of an African American woman who lived for a time during the 1850s in Adams County. She became a missionary in Africa. $30.00

“THIS BLIND JOURNEY” By Barbara Cranford. Friendship poems. $14.00

“TO THE LAST BIRD by Evalyn Attoe Blumer & Jerry W. Carlton (A saga of several generations of the bird family as it progressed westward eventually settling in central Wisconsin, describing their involvement in the development of the new city of Madison and constructing it’s new capitol building) $7.50

“TWO FATHERS, ONE WAR” by Marcia L Pollock Wysocky. A daughter’s story of her natural father and step father one in the European theater and the other in the Pacific theater of World War II. $15.00

“YOUR COUNTRY CALLS” By Sophronius Stocking Landt.  A veteran’s story of the Civil War. $10.00

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