Thursday, May 29, 2014
Sharing memories of two fine men of the community
Linda Duke Jones, Dennis Duke and Remy Collins attended the graduation of Linda and Dennis’s niece, Emily Johnson, in Little Rock, Ark., over the weekend. Emily graduated from Joe T. Washington High School.
Holly Springs lost two fine men last week, Neil Bain and Leslie Tomlinson.
Growing up, Flora Belle and Neil’s house was always full of fun and laughter. I will never forget riding to Senatobia for a football game with Neil driving. He took those hills on Highway 4 like they were speed bumps! There was never a dull moment when he was around, as he would always add some quick-witted comment to any conversation. He was such a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. His loss will be felt for years to come.
Always in the summer, Nonnie would ride out Salem Avenue straight to Eleanor Lee and Leslie’s house. We would take the half moon loop around and reach the strawberry table. Leslie was known for his beautiful and fresh strawberries. If he wasn’t out picking, he would be there to greet us with a smile and friendly conversation. Rare is the gem you can find who always smiles and has kind words, even for youngsters as Leslie always did. The void he has left will be a hard one to fill.
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Continuing the vision of pushing the museum forward
Here at the museum, we are busy with creating a searchable archive for Marshall County. Of our intrepid staff, Martha Fitch continues to re-distribute the myriad of information, photographs and letters into a researchable form using the primary asset she brings to the museum’s work…local knowledge of who is related to whom and/or who might know, Meredith Gray works away at the critical task of properly archiving all original documents and photographs that are being pulled out of the old files, tagging for ease of reference and storing them in archival boxes. Jennifer Bone has the tedious task of making the initial computer entries of the entire inventory while Annie Sue Hardin is wrapping up the museum’s artifact inventory. So again…we are busy!
Our job is to continue pushing forward the vision for the Marshall County Historical Museum which was conceived in the late 1960s by the Marshall County Historical Society, who felt that our county needed its own museum. They understandably grew weary of seeing “our” artifacts, so valuable towards telling the many layers of history here in Marshall County, showing up in other museums, private collections or of hearing far too often…(get ready to clutch the pearls!)… “Yeah, we had some trunks full of that old historical stuff and threw it out last year – did you all want it?”…and so in 1970, with nary two pennies to rub together, off they went to make the vision of a museum a reality. This fledgling citizens’ group initially consisted of the Marshall County Historical Society officers: Lanier Holland, Betty Driver, Janie Craft, Sally Ball Clayton, Vadah Cochran, Charles Dean, Hubert McAlexander and Lois Swaney (Shipp); others came on board as it took shape, including but not exclusive to: Chesley Thorne Smith, Eleanor Wyatt and Jennie Sue Coltharp. There has been a long list of true supporters in the museum’s ensuing 44 years, with the stalwart support of Marshall County Board of Supervisors and “Flick” Ash leading that charge while later, the City of Holly Springs came on board to provide support.
Our work is not new and attesting to this are recently found photographs taken in 1976 of Jennie Sue Calthorp working away at the museum, cataloguing the library of books from the Kate Freeman Clark collection…which had gotten rather musty from long years of Ms. Clark’s storing them in an old outbuilding at her home (the Walthall-Freeman House) a bequest that we are most grateful for: being entrusted with its custodianship and look forward to the opportunity of utilizing this collection to better interpret the life of Kate Freeman Clark, which will help encourage visitors here and down the street at the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery.
And we have had some interesting visitors come in the past week or so from Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, Iowa, Alabama and Florida, with the most intriguing visitor being an Andrew Blanchard from Traverse City, Michigan — a descendant of late 19th century writer Sherwood Bonner’s daughter Lillian McDowell. He had always heard of his ancestor’s home and life in Holly Springs, Boston and New York City; having a business trip that took him to Tupelo, saw Holly Springs on his route and stopped in to see “Cedarhurst” (the Bonner home - 1857) and get directions. Lucky day for him. We showed him the small collection of items related to this little recognized writer, allowing that I would be glad to take him by “Cedarhurst” and as an extra: a visit to the Hugh Craft House where in its front parlor, Sherwood Bonner and Edward McDowell sealed their intentions for each other, while her best friend Helen Craft, played popular tunes on the piano in the back parlor. The scene is endearingly romantic: Sherwood and Edward seated on the sofa writing notes of affection back and forth…sort of a 19th century version of “texting” if you will, while Helen tickled the ivories, providing background atmosphere. The curtains on this scene come down sometime later, as Sherwood evolved into what can best be described as a 19th century “feminist” of the Gilded Age and found it difficult conforming to the traditional role of mother and housewife expected of her, particularly in the Deep South. There is no better reference source for this fascinating woman’s short life than to pick up a copy of Hubert McAlexander’s “The Prodigal Daughter” here at the Marshall County Historical Museum – which our visitor Mr. Blanchard came by the museum to purchase.
With plans underway to rehabilitate the museum’s exhibit for the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878; it gives us an opportunity to revisit the exhibit on Sherwood Bonner and better re-interpret her life and literary contribution and as well, tell the poignant story of her family during the Yellow Fever Epidemic, in which she lost both her father and brother inside of a week.
The Marshall County Historical Museum is open Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday by advance notice. Call 662-252-3669 for arrangements. For more information about the museum, visit and “like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/mchistoricalmuseum.
Visit our website for programs; become a member or make a donation on PayPal: marshallcountymuseum.com.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: (662) 252-3388
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
The South Reporter
P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
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