Carl Campbell was the first person in Knoxville to feel that Marion County needed a Historical Society. In 1937, Carl purchased a collection from John Wright, which consisted of 6 Y2 trailer loads of books, newspaper clippings and Museum articles of local interest. Included in this collection was a fossil collection that and school children became interested in.
Mr. Campbell prepared his first exhibit. He traveled to various schools to present his exhibit and discuss Marion County history with the children.
In 1951, Carl had attempted to organize a local Historical Society with the support of several local organizations and the Mahaska County Historical Society. This first attempt at starting the organization was not successful.
In 1954 Carl gathered a few item and put them on display in the Marion County Courthouse until the showcases got broken.
When Jack Belknap, owner of Belknap Jewelry Store in Knoxville, learned of the broken showcase, he offered a free room in the back of the jewelry store. The jewelry store was located on the south side of the square in Knoxville in the space next to the theater, which is now occupied byt Iowa State Bank.
It wasn’t long before there were five showcases filled with historical items from all over Marion County. On February 15, 1955, Carl Campbell and Jack Belknap called the first meeting to organize the Marion County Historical Society.
A tempora org. was formed with C.B. Campbell, president; W.C. Palmer, Vice-P., Jack Belknap Treas.; Mrs. M.L. Hausner, Sec.; ;and 9 members for a Board of Directors were chosen from all over the county. There were representatives from 13 organizations present at that meeting. Soon Articles of Incorp. Were drawn up and the first annual meeting was set for March 21, 1955. A charter and by-laws were formed and by the end of the year there were 150 members. The Society met regularly on the third Monday of each month at 7:30 in the Jewelry store.
For the eight years between 1955 and 1963 the Museum was maintained in the Belknap Jewelry store. When the VA discontinued its farm operation the land and the buildings became available to Marion County. The Historical Society moved its ever expanding display, which had grown to 13,000 items to the Dairy Building which had 2 floors and a basement.
The construction of the Marion County Museum building was made possible by a generous bequest from the Pearl Culbertson Anderson estate in 1969. Additional donations from the public speeded the completion. The school house was the first building to be added and subsequently other additions have enlarged the site to the present 8 buildings of the Village.