If a walk through history is desired, no time machine is required, one need only look in their metaphorical backyard and visit the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum in Houston.
Operated by the volunteers of the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society, the Heritage Museum offers a plethora of exhibits that are specific to the region.
They have authentic artifacts from times past and almost everything has been donated, or is on loan.
The newest exhibit features the history of music in Chickasaw County. It was part of a recent promotion wherein they designed a poster highlighting the significant contributions Chickasaw has had on the music industry, and they even donated one to the Sparta Opry.
As mentioned, the museum is run on a completely volunteer basis by members of the historical society.
There are no salaries paid, these are simply people who love history and want to share that love with others.
“At this tourist site, we have no paid employees and operate solely with volunteers,” read the literature from the Museum.
It is even free to get in, although donations are gladly accepted.
So, what more could one want?
As far as the Historical Society, they are constantly looking for new members to join.
As of July 2021, the Chickasaw County Historical and Genealogical Society boasted 150 members from all over the country.
They have membership in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
However, due to the aging of the volunteers, it has presented a challenge.
“Due to the aging of our volunteers, it can sometime be a struggle to keep regular hours because of declining health.”
This is why new volunteers are needed.
However, that has not stopped them yet.
The museum is available for tours still, people must call to request a tour so as to avoid any conflicts of schedule.
The museum is also participating in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) by the American Alliance of Museums.
“We were pleased to be selected as one of 93 museums in the nation to participate in the assessment with this organization. The CCH&G Executive Board chose to participate in the Organizational Assessment. In June 2021, we completed our workbook of detailed assignments. Many hours were spent collecting local information from CCH&G, City of Houston, Chickasaw County, local schools, census information and more. In July, Susan Zwerling, Program Officer with MAP sent the CCH&G Executive Board eight names of potential peer reviewers from which we selected one for an on site visit. The goal is to have the visit in September or October.”
The Museum is making waves, and it is up to the community to support them.
They need the community's help in order to preserve the history of the area, not just for locals, but for anyone who wants to learn about Chickasaw County.
The Historical Society was founded in 1980, and they moved around for a while before they settled in a location.
“The Chickasaw County Historical & Genealogical Society was founded on June 24, 1980,” said Lamar Beaty, one of the members of the Historical Society as well as the DE-facto publicist for the museum. “The charter members were Robert Porter, James Clark, Libya and Joe Criddle, Harley Floyd, Cara Chisolm and Ann Dexter.
The first meeting was held at the Fire Station. Subsequent meetings were held at the Houston Library. Around the year 2000, meetings were moved to a building on Church Street that was owned by Chickasaw County.”
However, they began a search for a permanent location, one that could serve as a base of operations so to speak.
“An Ad Hoc committee was set up to locate a permanent location for the museum and research center. The current location on Woodland Circle was recommended by the committee. A presentation was made to the City and the City Board voted to allow us to build at the north end of the Joe Brigance Park, next to the bus barn.”
From there, construction began, and it was perhaps just as historical as the contents of said museum.
“The pine trees were cut from that section of the park and the logs were hauled to Keith Reese’s sawmill in the Atlanta Community. Members of the Historical Society along with, Chickasaw County Inmates, Keith and his father, Floyd, milled the logs into lumber which was used to build the Agricultural and Heritage Museum. The first building erected on that site was the Agricultural Museum around 2010. The first two rooms of the Heritage Museum were built in 2012 by county inmates. Shortly after that, the blacksmith shop was constructed. It was also that year that we relocated the old Parkersburg Depot to the park. It had been moved years earlier from its original location to a vacant spot behind the Fire Station. Once the first two rooms of the Heritage Museum were completed we moved out of the building on Church Street.”
Finally, the museum as it is today was finished in 2016.
“In 2016 we received a grant from the State of Mississippi. The 1,600 square foot Research Center was completed in 2016 and a third room was added to the Heritage Museum. Meetings of the Historical Society are now held in the Research Center on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 6:30 pm.”
Anyone interested in joining the Historical Society or scheduling a museum tour please call 662-456-0060. If no one answers, please leave a message and include your name and phone number.