Widner-Magers Farm Historic District

Added to the National Registry of Historic Places - February 2007

Just North of Dell, Mississippi County, Arkansas
A Collection of Plain Traditional-Style Agricultural Structures built between 1912 and 1939

A Member of the Association of Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museums 


The Mission of the Widner-Magers Farm Historic District is to promote and celebrate the unique agricultural experience of the Mississippi Delta in Northeast Arkansas, through the research and preservation of the farm buildings and early 20th century farm life; and to provide educational opportunities to experience 20th century farm life and folk culture.             


The Stockings Are Hung. . .

cotnAgricultural Architecture: The Widner-Magers Farm Historic District allows us to display the unique folk architecture that defined the Arkansas Mississippi Delta in the early 20th century through building styles, materials, and work function.

shotgun house

Does anyone have a SHOTGUN HOUSE or other tenant/sharecropper house or out-building in this area that you would like to donate? Please help us find some original structures! Email us! backatthefarm1938@yahoo.com

  • HISTORY of the Widner-Magers Farm
  • EVERETT-SHORT LOG HOME Dave and Shirley Short Donate Log Home to WMFHD Fall 2009 and December 2009 Update
  • WMFHD Newsletter, January 2009/Contents: 19th C History; WMFarm in Rural Arkansas Magazine; The Year Is 1938; Update 2008; 19th C Christmas; "On The Road"; Curtis C. Duncan Photography Featured; Donations; Wish List; Letter from Dru
  • WMFHD Newsletter, July 2007/Contents: Magers-Duncan Complex...National Register of Historic Places; A House Becomes A Home; 2007 Brings Many Additions To The Farm; The Open Hearth Cook Visits WMFHD; Thank You To...; Barn Quilts And Delta Angels; 1920 Grocery Building...; Hooter and Lucille; Boo; What's Happening At The Farm
  • WMFHD Newsletter, December 2007/Contents: The Old Red Barn To Host Santa And His Reindeer; Historic District To Celebrate Traditional Christmas; Bethlehem Relocated; Back At The Farm Joins Arkansas Delta Made; New Signs Designate Historic District; Barn Quilts Add A Touch of The 1930s; What's Happening At The Farm

logo Widner-Magers Farm Historic District

Please Note:

We are still restoring several of the buildings. Therefore we regret that we are not open to the public at this date. Hopefully, in Fall 2010, we will begin opening for special tours. Selected workshops on historic crafts and trades may be available also. We will keep you posted! So visit this site often!

A Member of ardelmade

Many thanks to those who have generously donated items to the Widner-Magers Farm: Dave & Shirley Short, Prim, AR; Marguarite Brownlee and Family, Dell; Bobby Hogan, Dell; Bo Whistle, Dell; Charles Parrish, Sherwood, Ar; Catherine Boren, Gosnell, Ar; Sandra Carpenter, Dell; Phillip Brown, Jonesboro, Ar; Mr. & Mrs. Chris Christenson, Calumet, Ar; Joe Chipman, Manila, Ar; Kevin Gerber, Marmaduke, Ar



"A farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer." (Will Rogers)


Magers Barn ca 1967, built ca 1930; photo by Curtis Duncan; known as the C C Duncan Farm from 1957-2004

Shotgun House ca 1960, built ca 1930; photo by Curtis Duncan

Hog Barn ca 1967; photo by Curtis Duncan

Farm Shop ca 1967, built ca 1939; photo by Curtis Duncan

Tenant House ca 1964, built ca 1938; photo by Curtis Duncan


A visit with Dave & Shirley Short, donors of the log house.






Fall "Cotton Pickin"


Loading the Modules of Cotton


Dru's "New" Super C Farmall Tractor


Glad we don't have to use the outhouse this year!


And, Winter's here again. . .




The Old Red Barn to Host Santa and His Reindeer

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the farm
Every creature was stirring but caused no alarm.
Their stockings were hung on the clothesline with care
In hopes Farmer John a treat he could spare.
Boo was all nestled and snug in a chair
Beside the warm fire, he had not a care.
With Dru in the kitchen, baking goodies and more,
John thought it a good time to visit our store.
There in the darkness, he found a sweet treat,
For Sissy and Fred and Bessie and Pete.
Whose evening was busy with making quite sure,
That the guests here at midnight enjoyed all the tour.
For Santa and Reindeer each year would stop in
To rest their tired hooves, with a story to spin.
“Tis a grand old red barn,” dear Santa would say.
“Mind if we rest? We've come a long way.
To this farm I've been coming for years upon years,
And the animals do greet me with laughter and cheers.
They come from close by, they come from afar
Guided only by mem’ry and the bright manger Star.
The owl's and the rabbits play host to each one,
One night every year, a truce declared won.”
So Fred and Sissy and Bessie and Pete,
Are so very busy, their food do not eat.
Farmer John knows them well, so for treats he did look,
That all be rewarded, sweet morsels he took.
But John has two reasons to offer a treat
That maybe, just maybe, a glance he might seek.
That he and Drucella and Boo maybe, too,
Could witness the miracle of this uncanny zoo,
When owls and rabbits and mice do sit down
Together to wait for the guests in our town.
For Santa and Reindeer will visit them soon
All creatures are friends now, from coyote to coon.
And once Santa rests and a story does tell,
The creatures will scurry, to their homes they will sail.
Yet kept in their hearts will remain one bright plan,
That Christmas to come they will together again stand
So that they might witness and see the miracles anew,
Glad tidings and love and make new friends, too.
And all through the year, they'll hold the good mem’ry of
The words of dear Santa as he put on his glove.
“To you and your friends, a Merry Christmas and love,
From Me and my Reindeer and God up above.”
So John and Drucella wish for your loved ones, too,
The lessons the creatures can teach us so true.

May each one of our Christmases
Be filled with the Son,
With Peace and Good Will to Each, Everyone!






May the Spirit of Christmas Past & Present fill Your Hearts with the Joy of the Season!


from all of us at the Magers Farm

John & Dru

Boo, the Resident Cat

Sissy & Fred, the Barn Owls

Bessie, Pete & Family, the Garden Rabbits

Wylie, the Coyote

Red, the Squirrel

And all the Wonderful Creatures who visit the farm each Christmas Eve.

(Read their Christmas Eve Story below left. . .)

cotn Folk Culture of the Mississippi Delta: The Widner-Magers Farm Historic District provides an opportunity to conserve the rich heritage of the Mississippi Delta in Northeast Arkansas. People of diverse backgrounds came together here in Mississippi County to drain the swamp and cultivate the soil. These people brought to our area a unique folk culture. Through research and a living history museum, we hope to preserve and share a part of the 1930s farm life.

We're Featured in Delta Crossroads this Month!

Click here for a preview

Farm News 2010

News as it Happens 'Here at the Farm' . . . . . . . . . .

For questions,  or to send information, contact: backatthefarm1938@yahoo.com

Dec 24-Read about Christmas Eve at the farm below left, when Santa visits the farm and all the creatures come together to celebrate Christmas.

We're all ready here for Christmas! The packages are wrapped and under the tree. Christmas music plays non-stop on the radio. John's stacked plenty of wood beside the fireplace. The weatherman says we might have a White Christmas! I hope so. The last of the food preparation is done. Tonight we'll watch the White Christmas movie and toast in Christmas Day! And, of course, Santa will be here to rest by midnight! We always enjoy his visit!

ec 23-Russell Stover candy is being delivered today! It's a tradition started with Earl Magers way back during the Great Depression. He'd order cases of the candy from the factory and distribute iDt to farm workers, family, and friends by Christmas Eve. When Daddy (Curtis Duncan) took over the farm, he continued the tradition until his retirement. Now, John and I are carrying it on! Granddaddy always said there was no candy as good as Russell Stover. We agree, so we saved a box for us!

Dec 18-"It's beginning to look like Christmas!" We're back from the Ozarks, where we started our Christmas celebration. Now, that we're back, John's delivering cookies and candy to our local friends in between working on the log house. He has 5 logs in place--ready for the floor. Now, we're waiting for the cypress joists to be cut. The cypress is coming out of the swamp at Lake City, AR. The flooring from the Crossroads Baptist Church will be laid on top.

While John works on the log house, I'm baking fruit cake--at the last minute, while decorating our little "Snoopy" tree.

We call it our family tree. We have 2 other trees, but this one is our favorite because it is full of photos of family--past and present. The branches are decorated with red glass balls and cotton bolls from our farm.

Dec 10-The Brownlees have donated a late 19th century mule drawn grader! It's in need of repair, but it will be a great addition to the farm. Half Moon Farms helped us move it today. Thank you to the Brownlee Family!

Dec 8-Boo is so disappointed. He thought this was his quilt. It's going to our best friend in Oklahoma. Please don't tell her!

Dec 7-We're winterizing the buildings and equipment before Old Man Winter arrives.

Our tours are over for the year. Yet, we have other projects going on. The log house has to be built. We'll be removing the flooring at the old Crossroads Baptist Church soon. Part will be used in the log house and the rest in the shotgun houses. It's sad to see the church taken down. At least we'll have a part of it here at the farm.

Crossroads Baptist Church

Nov 30-Our party/drop-in is reported in the Town Crier Newspaper, Manila, AR. Thanks Revis!

Nov 21-A "Drop-In" at the farm! We had the farm open today for the Dell people and donors to see. Below are a few photos!

Marguerite Brownlee donated the old Dell Post Office, as well as glass displays, numerous store fixtures, and vintage items.

John plays host in the "company store".


A recent donation from Louis Lammers of Dell.


Kyleigh and Granddad Billy Overton try out the Farmall!

Nov 12-John and I presented a program to the Blytheville Women's Club today, beginning with an update of the farm. Then we treated them with two people from the past--John and Dru in 1938, looking for some cotton pickers. They treated us with a delicious meal. Mississippi County women know how to cook!

Oct 29-We hosted approximately 50 people from Memphis, TN! The tour bus arrived at 9:00. Guests were treated with a tour of the manager's house, the newly stocked "company store", a vintage farm equipment display in the Widner barn, and special treats of Moon Pies and Cokes in the Magers barn. We took them back to life in 1938! Lots of fun!!!!!

Sept 27-Between the heat wave & the drought, we're a little behind on work here! It's turned cooler now. The smell of defoilant is in the air! The farmers are busy getting the crops out, and we're busy getting the store museum & other displays ready. Just look at the mess in the store!

July 26-the second shotgun building arrived!

July 22-The first of our three shotgun buildings has been moved in. We have definitely decided to eventually rent them out to visitors as a B & B="Bed and Barbeque!" Hopefully, we can do that next year.

We were interviewed on camera just this week by the Junior Reporters at ANC (Blytheville). They will be putting together a short news brief about the farm.

Joe Chipman will be using photos of him on our store porch for the cover of his new CD, soon to be out. Photos will also be used for his promotional material. We are very excited.....(Joe's first CD is for sale at: dellarkansas.com)

The Widner barn has been cleared out and room has been made to display the antique farm equipment.

Sissy (the resident barn owl) has a new boyfriend. We're hoping they'll tie the knot and have babies for us soon!

Check back in the next few days for other up-dates!!!!!!

May 24-A terrible storm today--winds 60+mph, hail, and 4" of rain in 30 minutes. One corner of the Magers barn was ripped apart. The cotton crop is a total loss. This week will have to be spent making repairs. Such is a farmer's life...

April 24-The "shells" of three shotgun houses are being built by Mennonites at Graceland Buildings in Tunican, Mississippi. Scheduled to arrive sometime in June, the houses will eventually be finished inside and used for a gift/infomation center and for B&B's. We can't wait to get started!

April 16-The logs are loaded and on their way! CLICK HERE to see a few of the photos of the big move!

April 1-John & I traveled to "The Homeplace" at Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky this week for an up-close look at the 1850s living history museum. We were almost the only people there, so we got a lot of personal attention, ideas, and instruction. We visited 2 log houses and numerous log barns and out-buildings. I took over 100 photos. We met Charley Fox, who constructed the two-story log house, and enjoyed his stories and input. The weather was beautiful. Now we're anxious to get started on our log house! John and Dave will be moving it from Prim the first "pretty" weekend.

Mar 29-John and Ryan are hard at work on the grocery interior.

Mar 19-Another Farmall for the farm! This one's for Dru! It's a1952 Super C, much like our Farmall H but smaller. In great shape and ready for spring plowing!

Mar 6-Grocery store update:Constructing a cabinet. Moving the post office in. Hanging a few signs. John & Ryan have been busy!

Feb 26-We attended the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis, TN. Outstanding booths, machinery, give-aways, and exhibits. Very informative and lots of fun.

Feb 15-John has been working on the store interior. The weather this winter has made it hard for him to work much in the cold.The log home is still in Prim--too muddy to get a semi truck backed in to load up! Maybe next month?

Feb 1-The Everett-Short Log Home may be older than we first thought! John takes samples of the original chinking to be analyzed by the chemistry department at Black River Technical College in Pocahontas, AR.

Jan--We received a wonderful gift from Kevin Gerber of Marmaduke, AR. Inheriting his grandfather's vintage farm equipment, Kevin called us early in January with the offer to donate the entire collection to the farm. Of course, we were thrilled and touched that someone would give so generously to our efforts here. Thanks so much Kevin!

Jan 29-31--Ice! Snow! Frozen Fog! What did we do to keep cabin fever at bay? We made Pumpkin Butter! The Native Americans kept pumpkins all winter long as a food source, so we did, too. But, since we know spring will be here soon, it was time to replenish our pantry with the spicy, sweet treat. Grand total: Pumpkin Butter: 20 pts, 3 qts., and plenty for biscuits now; Dried Pumpkin: 2 qts; Frozen Pumpkin: 6 pts for pies and side dishes. Wow!

We each have our place in time, and if we live right, we change that place and that time for the better.

Check out the Photos Below of

Christmas On The Farm

cotnEducation and Agri-Tourism : This project provides us with the opportunity to showcase the various aspects of agricultural production. The goal is to provide resources to enable visitors to enjoy hands-on experiences and educational opportunities regarding Delta farm history. 

learn about:

*Farm Life:"Cotton was, as it is now, a major crop in Dell. Those were the days of the balky mules, riding plows, straw bosses, milking chores in the morning and afternoon. . ."

"Another day at the farm: the diary of a farm manager's wife"; recipes; canning & preserving; treadle sewing machines; tenant quilts (view these links at a later date)


*Farm Equipment: early farm equipment


* Farm Architecture: the shotgun house; the four square tenant house; the pig barn; the mule barn; the farm shop (view this link at a later date)


* Farm Style: the decor of a farm manager's home


*Farm Fashion:then & now




The Widner-Magers Farm Historic District is featured in the July 2009 Rural Arkansas Magazine! We would like to thank all of you for the encouraging emails, phone calls, and visits.


Christmas 2010

Our "Snoopy" Tree

Irene Magers Duncan, age 2

Christmas in the Delta

John Gets a 10 Point Deer (Dear?) for Christmas

Boo sits on a Christmas gift to our friend in Oklahoma.



Merry Christmas!

Christmases Past and Present




More to come. . . .











Links to:

dellarkansas.com The Dell History Web site

 Curtis C. Duncan Photography

 Our Cotton Patch, LLC, Dell, Arkansas

logoFor questions,  or to send information, contact: backatthefarm1938@yahoo.com

Much of what is profoundly American--what people love about America--has come from

The Delta

 MsCoAR USGen Web