By Charles Warner Editor
October 27, 2013
UNION — Even as it attracted guests from as far away as the British Isles, the Union County Museum saw its online presence continue grow in September with more than 12,000 hits and 1,100 fans on Facebook.
Director Ola Jean Kelly reported that 258 guests signed the museum’s guest register in September including visitors from outside Union County, outside South Carolina, and even from outside the United States.
Kelly said South Carolinians from outside the county who visited the museum included guests from Anderson, Charleston, Columbia, Cowpens, Florence, Fort Mill, Gaffney, Greenville, Inman, Pacolet, Pauline, Rock Hill, Spartanburg, Summerville, Taylors and Whitmire.
Guests from outside South Carolina hailed from California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington State.
September’s guests also included the museum’s first international visitors since July. They included visitors from Ontario, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Guests who sign the register are also asked how they learned about the museum. Kelly said those who answered the question wrote:
• A friend
• The Internet
• Walking by
• Driving by
• Road Sign
• My Sunday School teacher
• The website
Those visitors who cited the Internet and the museum’s website as how they learned about the museum are among the thousands of people around the world who have learned about the museum through its online presence. They are among the many thousands who visit the museum’s website each month to view its online postings and learn more about what it has to offer.
Kelly said that in September there were 12,576 hits on the museum’s Facebook page which now has 1,156 fans who have “liked” it. She said that many of these fans have chosen to share the pictures, events, and comments posted on the site with friends which in turn draws even more people to the museum.
A major factor in the growth of the popularity of the museum’s Facebook page has been the old photographs of Union County the museum began posting online in February.
The black and white and color photographs and postcards posted online by the museum depict landmarks, scenes of everyday life, and events from Union County’s past dating back to the 19th century. The businesses, churches, and other institutions as well as events depicted include the old Union High School on Main Street, the 1910 M.E. Tinsley’s Jewelers Parade display, the old Union County Courthouse which was demolished before World War I, Finchers Bar-B-Q Restaurant on Pinckney Street, Monarch Mill, and a scene of Main Street Union which includes the McClellans’s 5 & 10, Glamor Shop, and Graham Cash Co. stores.
Online exhibits that focus on a specific institution or era from Union County’s past include “Remembering Union Mill” which features more than 200 photos of the textile mill and “You’ve Heard Their Stories Now See Their Faces” which features photos of Civil War era figures such as States Rights Gist, the Confederacy’s youngest general; Secession Gov. William H. Gist, the owner of Rose Hill Plantation; Gordon Magrath; Benjamin F. Arthur; Col. James Gadberry; and Gen. William H. Wallace.
Guests who sign the register are also asked to comment about their visit to the museum and, as in previous months, those who did had only good things to say.
• Maryland — Very nice, thank you.
• Taylors — Love the antiques.
• Jonesville — Like the kids toys in the kids corner.
• Buffalo — Thanks for help posting photographs.
• Charleston (frequent visitor) — Wonderful as always.
Meeting Room Use
The basement of the museum houses its meeting room which is made available for local and area groups to meet. In September, the DAR and the Union Music Club met in the meeting room.
Cross Keys Plantation
The museum is owned by the Union County Historical Society which also owns the Cross Keys Plantation.
In 1865, the plantation was visited by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, members of his cabinet, and their military escort as they fled south following the fall of the Confederate capital in Richmond, Va. to the Union army.
The historic nature of the plantation has made it a popular tourist attraction and the historical society is in the process of renovating the property to more fully restore its antebellum character while making it more convenient for visitors.
Kelly said that “good attendance continues” at the plantation and that construction of a freestanding kitchen as would have existed when it was first established will begin soon. She said work on two additional buildings, one of which will house public restrooms for visitors, will soon begin as well.
Kelly also reported that security at the museum and the plantation has been upgraded.
“The museum alarm system has been repaired,” Kelly said. “A new monitoring service is in place, access codes have been changed and the system has cellular communication capabilities. A new eight-camera DVR surveillance system has been installed, giving the museum expanded security viewing. The old four-camera system has been removed and has been installed at the Cross Keys House.”
Like the rest of the downtown area of Main Street, the museum took part in the Uniquely Union Festival in September. Kelly said the festival brought new visitors to the museum.
“The museum participated in the Uniquely Union Festival by staying open extra hours and enjoyed meeting many out-of-towners who had never been to Union and who had never heard of the museum,” Kelly said. “Each left with a supply of brochures and information about the wonderful historic sites in the city and county.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.