Museum rolls out local Civil War history

James Clark, on left, and Janis Dyson, of the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society, stand with letters, diaries and photos that are part of a new exhibit at the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum. (Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

James Clark, on left, and Janis Dyson, of the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society, stand with letters, diaries and photos that are part of a new exhibit at the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum.
(Floyd Ingram / Buy at photos.chickasawjournal.com)

HOUSTON – The men and women who fought in the Civil War in Chickasaw County are long gone, but their photographs, letters and history live on at the Chickasaw County Museum.

The Museum unveiled its new Civil War display last week and is urging the community to come by and see if they know some of the people shown in this exhibit.

“We’ve got letters, diaries, artifacts and of course lots of old photos of those we know were involved in the war,” said Jan Dyson, of the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society. “If you have relatives who lived around here during the Civil War, we probably have information on them.”

The exhibit also displays everything from wedding bands and pistols to a sword and drum.

“The wedding bands were found near the old Okolona Hospital and they guess they came off of soldiers who died,” said Dyson. “We have been fortunate to have a lot of people come forward with some of these treasures and let us display them.”

The pistol was unearthed near Macedonia Cemetery in the 1930s. The sword is a cherished family possession and the drum is part of a private Civil War memorabilia collection.

“But I like the letters and the diaries the best,” said Dyson. “They tell the day-to-day stories of the Civil War and show what it was like live in that day and age. Some of the letters are so emotional and you realize how hard the war was on everybody.”

The Museum has photocopied the letters and the public can turn the pages and read those letters written in the flowing cursive script of the 1800s.

And then there are the more than 50 photos that make up four large wall exhibits. Those exhibits list the names of those men from Chickasaw County who served in the Civil War. They also tell the history of a local Civil War spy and a slave who went off to war with his owner and saved his life after he was shot.

James Clark a founding member of the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society said the exhibit focuses on the rich local history of the Civil War.

“We did this to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the War Between The State,” said Clark. “People probably don’t realize how much of the war passed through Chickasaw County.”

The exhibit points out the war repeatedly swept through Chickasaw County from 1862 to 1865. The Black Paririe was known at the breadbasket of the South and Union raiders road south about once a year to burn and destroy.

“We are proud of this display and feel it is a good representation of our history,” said Clark. “We really do have a lot of artifacts and documents on display. People need to come by and check it out.”

The Chickasaw County Heritage Museum is located at 304 East Woodland Circle in Joe Brigance Park. The Museum is open most day and can be reached by visiting their website at www.chickasawcountyhistorical.com.

In 1979 the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society was formed to preserve, catalog and share local history.

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.

The Historical Society has embarked on a three-phase building project for the site on Woodland Circle in Joe Brigance Park.

The first phase saw the construction of a 2,000-square-foot Ag Museum to houses 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 Historic Society has also built a blacksmith’s shop and recently unveiled 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 spring the Museum earned the coveted Frank E. Everett, Jr. Award, the state’s top award for protection and display of local history, from the Mississippi Historical Society.

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