Although many area residents don’t pay a great deal of attention to it, the fact is Texas County is abounding with history.
Since its founding as Ashley County in 1843, the place has certainly seen its share of noteworthy occasions, occurrences and moments, and many an extraordinary man and woman has set foot within its 1,179 square miles. While factors like fire, theft, oversight and the simple passing of time have left the present without tangible documentation of much of that past, a significant amount is preserved within the walls of a structure on Grand Avenue in downtown Houston: The Texas County Memorial Building.
The building is shared by two separate nonprofit entities: The Texas County Historical and Military Museum and the Texas County Genealogical and Historical Society. Both are dedicated to promoting and preserving local history, with the former maintaining numerous displays of military and general historical nature and the latter operating a library featuring a vast collection of historical documents and paperwork.
It would be amazing enough just to see all this stuff under one roof. But it’s even better because it’s in Houston – and viewing it is free.
Sure, the Memorial Building is only open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays from March through October, so it’s far from convenient for everyone to get there. But I believe that finding a way to squeeze through that small window of time is well worth it.
The museum is loaded with interesting items, including (but not limited to) clothing, photos, old newspapers, artwork and a host of objects with a connection to Texas County’s general history or military history. It’s all neatly arranged and displayed on walls, in glass cases and by other means in a way that’s pleasing to the eye and easy on the brain.
Basically, it’s a very real museum housing very real glimpses of local history.
The Genealogical and Historical Society’s library isn’t as grand of a visionary spectacle, but it’s incredible that so much information spanning such a long period of time has been compiled and organized on shelves in Houston. It’s actually possible to find printed records of marriages, births and deaths dating back a century, and there are literally thousands of other historical documents of almost every imaginable type.
It’s difficult to appreciate the amount of focus and effort that went into putting it all together, but it was no doubt an undertaking that required lots of people and lots of hours.
And again, all this is in a building in downtown Houston. It’s remarkable.
I’m glad to be aware of the scale of what’s inside the Memorial Building, and I like knowing it’s all there. To me it represents an important piece in the complex, unique and fascinating puzzle that is the former Ashley County, Mo.
As is seemingly the case with all volunteer organizations these days, the two Memorial Building groups are always seeking willing and able bodies to help further their similar but separate causes. To get involved with the Historical and Military Museum, call volunteer director Ron Jones at 405-618-6779. To help with the Genealogical and Historical Society, call Shirley Wenger at 417-967-2946.
Texas County is a great place and I hope it has a great future. It certainly has an interesting past, and thankfully, some of it is on display for all to see.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.
Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or email at email@example.com.