A museum of precious memories
The Vanishing Texana Museum, in Jacksonville, is made up of a collection of items which represent the history of the Jacksonville, and Cherokee County, community.
“I think what makes this museum different is the, is the fact that we, we offer both things, which are about our local community and things which are on loan from private collectors,” said Curator Larry Lydick. “The thing on loan, you will have never seen some of these items before and may never see them again.”
The museum was founded in 1976, 4 years after the 100th year anniversary of the City of Jacksonville.
“It became apparent that there were a lot of items in the community that we’re going to just get disposed of if someone didn’t do something,” said Lydick. “So they started collecting items and they were held in the [Jacksonville Public Library.] But you couldn’t really see them because the lighting was not proper, and the storage was not proper. So in 2013 the museum moved to the old senior center.”
When Lydick joined the museum in 2016 he was given a book which stated the museum consisted of 300 items. But, after 6 months of photographing and inventorying them into a new system, he realized there was 2,700 items in the collection.
“And it’s grown today to over 3,700 items in the collection,” said Lydick.
So what are these items?
“There’s a lot of one-of-a-kind items,” said Lydick. “We have a quilt display and within that is a quilt made up of 62,000 quarter-inch squares. And sitting next to it is a quilt from the Civil War. It was a welcome quilt and it was rescued by a local collector and patched back together by the quilt club in Rusk.”
The museum is also home to, what is most likely, the only Texas flag that has been to the moon.
“[The flag] was flown by astronaut Alan Bean to the moon and back, and [then he] donated it here to the museum in honor of Nimrod Ragsdale who was a founder of our community,” said Lydick.
The museum also has a variety of railroad items, hotel relics and agricultural items that outline the history of the community. Inside the walls you’ll also find manual typewriters, dinosaur bones, swords, guns, coins and currency, games, dolls, bottles, photographs, scales, sewing machines and everything in between.
“The museum’s divided into several categories and we take you on a tour because we can link some items together,” said Lydick. “We also don’t require you to read a lot of 3×5 cards. Too often, when I went to museums, after about 15 minutes of reading the cards I was done .So we try to make sure you really get the whole experience and really immerse yourself.”
Depending on what you’re interested in, or what you want to see, Lydick and other museum volunteers can take you on a tour catered to your interests. “And then after the tour you can go back and see the items which are more of interest to you, so you may look at bottles, may look at the trains, may look at the military, those sorts of things.”
“You know, it’s important for the public to come see these things because it’s an educational feature, along with entertainment.” said Lydick. “And I think the fact that you can see and learn things that you couldn’t learn anyplace else is a key reason to come visit this museum.
The Vanishing Texana Museum is located at 302 South Bolton Street in Jacksonville. It’s in the same building as the Senior’s Center.
They’re open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday – Saturday.
The museum has free admission, and free parking.
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