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Our Mission

Through ongoing events, exhibits, and engaging educational programs, the Atkins-Johnson Farm and Museum seeks to encourage a greater awareness of and appreciation for local history and farm-to-table concepts.

By collecting and preserving cultural material for future generations, the museum aims to use a multifaceted approach to share Clay County farm history with visitors.

The Big Shoal Heritage Area is home to Gladstone Missouri's first historic preservation project. The Atkins-Johnson Farm and Museum and the Big Shoal Cemetery are both located on the east side of Gladstone. The farm sits in a place that was once considered the edge of the American West. This area is rich in history and local farm culture.


Atkins-Johnson Farm and Museum: Originally a two story log cabin built between 1831-1834, this home is recognized as one of the oldest continuous occupied homes in Clay County. The original one-room log home was converted into a four-room I-house in 1853 by the Atkins family. The home is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places as a 1900 era Missouri farmstead. The current museum displays original family heirlooms and artifacts discovered during the restoration process and a number of special exhibits related to farm life and local history. A heritage garden is on site to give visitors a taste of heirloom produce that was traditionally grown on farms. Visitors can appreciate the amount of time and labor it took to meet basic needs such as food provision.

Big Shoal Historic Cemetery: The Big Shoal Cemetery was established in 1824 on donated land from the Hightower and Atkins family. The Big Shoal Cemetery is the final resting place for six Civil War veterans, a veteran of the War of 1812 and a veteran of the Blackhawk Indian Wars. Also resting at Big Shoal Cemetery is John Bender the founder of Acme Springs, MO on the east side of what is now Gladstone. Today there are no remnants of this town left for visitors to see. A self-guided tour brochure is available within the Big Shoal Cemetery for visitors. Reflection benches are provided where the old Big Shoal Primitive Baptist Church once stood.

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