Tour of the Dexter (Iowa) Museum

Someone who follows my website (Sharon knows who this is) said she loved being able to have a virtual tour of some of the stories on the Dexter Museum. Maybe it would be fun to point out a few.

The genesis of the museum was donations by the family of Dexter’s blacksmith, AKA master artisan in metalworking, Jim Meister. Not only did they donate his machinery, a step-son’s monetary donation has been invested in a trust.

A military section, below, is to the right as you enter the museum. There’s a large wall display of the five Wilson brothers, who grew up in Dexter during the Great Depression. The service flag from the window of the house at Minburn has been matted in red.

Museum board members, Doris Feller and Rod Stanley, tell Dexter stories to a group of grade school kids. A poster from “Fever Heat” is on the wall below. Most of the movie was filmed in Dexter.

To the right of the door is a section featuring Dexfield Park, one of the first amusement parks in Iowa.

In the corner, next to the Dexfield Park display, is a Dexter Washer, then all about Harry Truman giving a speech to 100,000 people at the 1948 National Plowing Match. The put a town of fewer than 700 people “on the map” in a hurry!

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There’s also a case filled with memorabilia of the Dexter Clinic Hospital and Doctors Chapler and Osborn who served the area for decades. In the same area are maps and items about the Rock Island Railroad, which goes through Dexter.

The three long pictures are of the Dexter canning factory. (Story about my mother and both grandfathers working there.) Next, believe it or not, is a genuine Dexter Hog Oiler.

There’s an old heating stove in the back of the museum, a loom, and miscellaneous items. Jim Meister’s display is back there as well. Then an old Monarch wood-cob-coal burning cookstove.

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The biggest attraction at the museum is about the Barrow Gang, AKA Bonnie and Clyde, and the shootout at Dexfield Park. Below is B&C historian Rod Stanley with part of the display. A local man had stolen the radiator cap from Clyde Barrow’s Ford and eventually donated it to the museum

Rod is always being asked what happened to Bonnie and Clyde, who got away during the shootout in Dexfield Park, so he had a display made with the details.


Most of the rest of the museum is about area schools, and includes an area about country schools and displays the bell from Penn No. 4 country school.

You’ve just had a quick tour of Dexter’s small but dandy museum.




  1. That museum seems packed with stuff and stories. My grandparents had a coal stove in their kitchen. My memories of it are like the Monarch.

    We watched a good movie the other night called The Highwaymen. It was about the two men who went after Bonnie and Clyde eventually catching them.

    • Would you believe that Bonnie and Clyde returned to the area the next April and robbed the bank at Stuart! It’s the next town west of Dexter. Turns out I’ll be helping Rod Stanley tell the story of Dallas County’s military heroes on November 3. He’ll the main ones, but working on the storyboard for the new Dallas County Freedom Rock, I’ve learned more about the lesser known men.

  2. I have not been to the Dexter Museum but will plan to stop the next time I visit Stuart. Looks like there’s a lot to see and learn. Thanks for the nudge.

  3. I am particularly struck by how light and bright the museum is and the professionalism of the displays. Many local museums I’ve visited seem like random stuff from somebody’s barn.

    • They’ve really worked hard at it, even through the winter when they’re not open, just a handful of people. The harder things to display (like a dray from the depot) are in storage in another building.

  4. i grew up with that radiator cap off Clyde & Bonnie’s 34 Ford…….often when friends came to visit the cap was pulled out of the over-head kitchen cabinet to show.(smile)
    sincerely, Ted Lenocker

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