Thursday, September 3, 2009
Museum moving home
By SUE WATSON
Volunteers and paid help are busy putting back together the exhibits in the remodeled Marshall County Historical Museum.
And there’s no one more excited about the way the exhibits are shaping up than curator Lois Swaney Shipp, the person responsible for the museum’s creation.
The Mississippi Synodical College building, that housed girls attending high school and the first two years of college, has been restored to its former health by the Marshall County Board of Supervisors and the state of Mississippi. The state provided a grant to stabilize the three-story structure. Added on the back is an elevator for the convenience of workers and guests.
Nearly all the contents of the museum were made in Marshall County or donated to the museum by citizens of the county. Some of the artifacts go well back into the 1800s and the value of the collections is priceless.
On the first floor is a music room, the main office, and a library. The music room has an 1875 American-made cherry wood organ that is played with the hands, feet and knees (for the bellows). And there are two pianos, a collection of banjos, guitars and horns.
Hundreds of family items once owned by the late Kate Freeman Clark, including clothing she had made, dolls, and several generations of the family's heirlooms and a portable sewing machine are displayed.
Clark’s father was appointed as under secretary of state, spent two weeks in Washington, then died of malaria.
A nest of tables with art deco designed tops, owned by the late Mrs. Malcolm Moss, who lived at Walter Place, was repaired and returned to the museum by Joe Hurdle of Slayden. He also repaired the box used to store Clark’s sewing machine.
A War Room contains artifacts from 10 wars including German and Italian flags that were spoils of war brought back by American soldiers from World War II. One German flag has blood stains on it.
There are Dixie flags and memorabilia remembering the War between the States.
The Sheriff’s Wall has a picture of all the sheriffs who have served in Marshall County and a wall with the pictures of past mayors of Holly Springs, going back to the Sam Coopwood days and the Gatewoods (father and son) and Eddie Lee Smith, the first African American mayor of the city.
A unique collection of American flags dates back to 1884 when there were 42 stars, including the state of Montana. A 46-star flag used only five years dates back to 1907 and celebrates the addition of the state of Oklahoma. A 48-star flag and 50-star flag is also on display - all hanging on the wall above the first staircase.
A large library collection houses many of the first editions of books saved from local libraries. In the library hangs several black-out shades painted by Kate Clark and her prayer book collection is also on display. Clark was Episcopalian.
The museum has a book shelf full of books about World War II, many of them paperbacks.
A Black History Wall containing the images of many notable blacks from Marshall County is well presented. A collection of images from Rust College was just donated to the museum last week.
A Bed Room contains a 1830 secretary top, an antique trunble bed and an antique Empire chest of drawers is part of the bedroom collection. Several baby carriages are displayed including a perambulatory baby carriage donated by Annis Hicks of Byhalia. And a horsehair blanket that would be used in a buggy or carriage or wagon donated by Chesley Smith, is included in the bedroom collection.
Marshall County once tried to launch a silk industry. In 1840, mulberry trees and silkworms were imported from China and silk was grown in the county. Some of the silk was sent to Paris for spinning and weaving and a bolt of silk cloth was returned to the Tyson family. Mrs. Tyson refused to cut the silk to make clothing because of its beauty.
Included in the silk room is a collection of hats, antique manual Singer sewing machines and lots of glass dishes, as well as an incredible collection of clothing (dresses and swim suits). Swaney said the clothing collection is better than some she has seen in museums in New York.
There is a collection of hoop slips, including a number which were handmade.
One wall contains a collection of quilts, including one spread that took first place at the Mid-South Fair in 1917. The quilts were all made on local plantations and were made of locally grown textiles such as cotton and wool.
The third floor has a Cowboys and Indians Room, a Doctor’s Office, a Toy Room, a Tool Room and a Broom Factory and a School Room containing the pictures of past graduating classes.
Volunteer Cindy Keown, a newcomer to Holly Springs, has been helping with the moving and setting up of exhibits. She is enjoying learning about the history of Marshall County.
“When I first came here, there were just boxes everywhere,” she said. “It’s really been fun.”
Keown said she volunteered to help offset boredom.
“Every day is a different day coming here,” she said. “You learn the history of Holly Springs.”
Swaney said all her volunteers have been talented and are “God -sent help.”
The museum should be ready to reopen by October, Swaney said. She wants to get the collections properly displayed before reopening.
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