More than 100 of those barns and some of the stories they provide can be found in Shewmaker and Harris’ book, Barns of Benton County, Arkansas.
The book, a culmination of 16 years worth of driving down old dirt roads, is a tribute to the Benton County of old — one that would be completely unrecognizable to the majority of its residents today. The book serves as a reminder of simpler times. And there’s probably no better duo around to honor the barns of Benton County than Shewmaker and Harris.
Shewmaker was born on the family farm. With timber they cut themselves, her parents built the barn where she played hide-and-seek with her cousins and searched for kittens in loose hay.
When Shewmaker moved to Bentonville in 1970, the population was barely 5,500. Barns, both in use and retired, dotted the countryside. She would eventually grab her camera and begin capturing each one.
Harris is a fifth-generation Benton County resident and an eager student of local history. An advocate of historic preservation, she has spent the last 20 years educating others at the Rogers Historical Museum.
With a notebook in hand, Harris began accompanying her friend in search of Benton County’s barns, documenting every bit of historical information she could find about the old structures and their owners.
The Benton County of today may no longer resemble the Benton County in which these old barns were raised. But thanks to the passion and curiosity of these two dedicated residents, a piece of Benton County’s rich heritage will be preserved and enjoyed for many years to come.
In the words of Shewmaker and Harris, “these barns stand in silent honor of the farm families whose work and dedication should not be forgotten.” And now they can be a part of your home. Their book, Barns of Benton County, Arkansas is available for purchase at the following locations:
The Walmart Museum
105 N Main St, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712
Crystal Bridges of American Art, Museum Store
600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712
Rogers Historical Museum
322 S 2nd St, Rogers, Arkansas
The Peel Mansion Museum & Heritage Gardens
400 S Walton Blvd, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712
Note: The Peel Mansion Museum Store will ship the book.