History
Historical Upshur Museum History

Enter the portals of Gilmer's neoclassical style federal building and take a walk through over 150 years of time. Join us as we explore and learn our history from the ancient mounds constructed by Caddo Indians to the fringes of outer space touched by graduates of Upshur County schools.

The red brick and concrete building which houses the collection of the Historic Upshur Museum served the people of Upshur County as a post office from February, 1926 until October, 1992. With funds acquired from private citizens, the City of Gilmer, and the County of Upshur, the Board of Directors purchased the building from the federal government and opened the first exhibits October 1, 1993.

On the 150th anniversary of the creation of Upshur County, April 27, 1996, the museum reopened with new exhibits, which we welcome you to visit.

Among the prized possessions are the negatives of the Hays studio which J.M. "Matt" Hays opened in 1897. Among these are photographs of the Dickson Colored Orphanage, the first orphanage for African-American youth in Texas and of the Mormon colony at Kelsey, and other significant moments.

In the future, we hope to expand our exhibits on our businesses and the county's rich musical heritage which includes such talents as the Stamps and Owens Brothers Quartets, the Rangers, Johnny Mathis, Freddie King, Ray Price, Jerry Elliott of the Light Crust Doughboys, Michelle Shocked, and others.

School children come on field trips and learn of their history first hand. Special tours can be arranged for youth groups.

Quilt shows during the Cherokee Rose Festival, the immediate past Queens dress during theEast Texas Yamboree, and other special exhibits are part of the many varied offerings which you may find when you visit. Come Join us at the old post office building on the square and see why we say, "We are nostalgic about our past and excited about our future."


Museum Reopens

The Historic Upshur Museum reopened the exhibit area to enthusiastic response March 31. Carpenters, painters and plasters took over the exhibit area in late October, 2000, repairing portions of the interior and reworking the double hung windows. At the opening, visitors immediately remarked about the improved lighting and the beauty of the restored windows. A grant from the Texas Preservation Trust Fund will reimburse the board for one-third of the cost of the project. In remarks at the front door, President Jim Eitel pointed out that the heavy rainfall from December through March had delayed the completing of the exterior painting.

Despite these problems, volunteers, docents, and ff had persisted through the five months, cataloguing artifacts, storing items in newly acquired acid free boxes and files, and shelving the items in the collection storage area. A large portion of these materials were acquired with the assistance from a grant from the Texas Historical Commission Museum Studies Division.

During the final days before the reopening, Connie Duke and Lynda Phillips especially donated
many hours to the shelving and straightening of the collection and to the dusting and scrubbing of
the work areas.

With the assistance of funds from the Joe B. and Louise T. Cook Foundation, the museum acquired
heavy duty shelving which will hold up to 100 acid-free boxes of artifacts and paper items, a rack for hanging Yamboree trains and quilts, and additional chrome plated steel shelving for the Hays collection.

Runelle Stembridge made it possible to acquire two upright metal bookcases for shelving the museum archives and items in the process of being catalogued. She also donated two 36-inch high walnut bookcases for the Conference Room. On these shelves sit The New Handbook of Texas, a six-volume encyclopedia about Texas which she had previously donated.

With the assistance of a grant by the T. Whitfield Davidson Foundation, the museum acquired three
custom-made Venetian blinds for the office and conference room areas. In the future, 31 more blinds will allow diffused light to enter the Museum Shop and the collection areas.

Several of the exhibit cases had been reworked during the downtime, allowing for items acquired since 1996 to be added to the displays. Of special interest was the plantation pan donated by Sara Dumas, which appears to be filled with freshly baked bisquits, and a Model-T wheel and tire given by Col. Tom Kouba and the STOP sign from Simpson Street given by Ralph Byman.

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