CHICKSAW COUNTY – The Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society has earned the state’s top award for protection and display of local history.
Members of the Historical Society traveled to Jackson recently to accept the Frank E. Everett Jr. Award for outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of local history.
“This is incredible recognition for our group and our museum and we are most appreciative,” said Historical Society President Larry Davis. “I think it is a reflection of more than 35 years of diligent work that people in this community have done to preserve the history of this community.”
Davis said local residents probably don’t realize the quality of records and artifacts on display at the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum. He stressed it is all a labor of love and all done by volunteers.
“We’ve built two building and a third is on the way,” said Davis. “We’ve done it all with local money and sponsors. The state was impressed with what we have done and that we have done it without state or federal money.”
In 1979 the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society was formed to preserve, catalog and share local history.
“Robert Porter and I came back from a visit to the Tupelo Museum to research our families and said Chickasaw County needed something like that,” said James Clark, a charter member of the Historical Society. “I never thought it would grow to what it is today. It’s good to see this recognition. We are so proud of this place and what it means to this community.”
Historical family research has been a keystone in building the current facility. From the beginning the Historical Society has sought to preserve county records, post office and cemetery locations, land maps, letters, family histories and the little bits of information that help people research their roots.
A major portion of the museum’s visitors are people who drive from out of town to search for information about their relatives.
“These people stay in our motels, eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores,” said Davis “This is not only positive recognition for our county, but also economic development.”
The Historical Society has embarked on a three-phase building project for the site at Woodland Circle in Joe Brigance Park.
The first phase saw the construction of a 2,000-square-foot Ag Museum to house farm equipment and ag-related items with historical significance. Phase Two saw the construction of a 1,600-square-foot building that houses research and historical records as well as artifacts and exhibits. Phase Three will be an additional 800-square-foot exhibit area.
The Historical Society has also built a blacksmith’s shop and is seeking to preserve the old Parkersburg Depot.
Plans have also been discussed to highlight the community’s musical heritage and create a permanent exhibit depicting the history of the Chickasaw Indian nation.
“This is a labor of love for us,” said Libba Criddle, a museum patron and longtime Historical Society member. “This is our history and we want to keep it alive and available to our community.”
The museum is currently organizing an exhibit of local Civil War soldiers and families. That exhibit, featuring photos, letters and artifacts from the Civil War will be unveiled at the Spring Flywheel Festival April 25-26.
The Frank E. Everett, Jr. Award was established by the Mississippi Historical Society to memorialize Everett, who was the first president of the society following its reorganization in 1953.
Everett was instrumental in establishing the Vicksburg and Warren County Historical Society and in helping preserve the Old Warren County Courthouse and also served for many years as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
The Historical Society is a 501-c-3 organization and all donations are tax deductible. The Historical Society can be reached at www.chickasawcountyhistorical.com.