Monday, July 16, 2012

The Curious Case of the Missing Museum

Francis "Fuzzy" Swayze
Ask and ye shall receive, the Good Book says.
Last week I mentioned the collection of Kerr County historical items gathered by the students of Mrs. Kate Franklin's junior high classes, here in Kerrville, back in the 1930s. These items were displayed in the "Kate Franklin Museum" in cases on the campus of the Franklin Junior High School, and included items from the very beginning days of Kerrville.
Since my column last week I've learned two very interesting things about this missing collection. First, my long-time friend and former Kerrville mayor Fuzzy Swayze called to let me know what happened to the collection after it was no longer on display at the school. He remembers seeing the collection at the Arcadia Theater, in some of the display cases in the long entryway between the ticket booth and the auditorium portion of the theater building. Where those items went after being displayed at the Arcadia is a mystery. (Among the items was a mortar and pestle which belonged to Mr. Swayze's grandfather, who was a physician.)
A 1949 Kerrville Mountain Sun article says the Mrs. Florence Weiss, who was "in charge of the room formerly occupied by the Kate Franklin Museum" was attempting to return all of the items tagged with owners' names to their rightful homes, as "there is no more room for the museum articles, as there has been no one to take care of them for several years."
Second, I learned the reports collected by Mrs. Franklin's classes were published as a booklet, something I didn't know before.
In a 1984 Kerrville Mountain Sun, I had read one of Forrest Salter's columns about the reports: "Years ago our beloved history teacher, Kate Franklin, encouraged her
history students to interview the old timers, and their reports were published in a remarkable 75th anniversary history of Kerr County."
Well, lo and behold, a copy of that history came to our print shop last Friday. I'm busy making a good clear copy of the booklet, as well as reading every page. What a remarkable thing to see!
Over the next few weeks I'll be sharing stories from that history here. Some of them are quite remarkable, not only for their content, but also because they're interviews of people who were actually here as pioneers.

* * *

Together with Lanza Teague, Julius Neunhoffer, and other members of the Kerr County Historical Commission, I've helped put together a display of historical Kerr County items at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center (the old post office) at 228 Earl Garrett Street, here in Kerrville. The items will be on display until August 5th, and admission is free.
I've included several portraits of familiar Kerr County names in the items I've contributed. Ever wonder what Captain Charles Schreiner looked like? Or Captain Joseph Tivy, for whom our high school is named? Or perhaps Florence Butt, the godly woman who started a little grocery store on Main Street in Kerrville? These portraits and others are among the images on display.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerr County historical items. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 14, 2012

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