June was an especially active month for the Union County Museum with visitors from as far as away as Germany coming to immerse themselves in the history on display.
Director Ola Jean Kelly said that 261 people signed the guest register at the museum’s Main Street entrance in June. In addition to Union County residents who came to view the past of their community, Kelly said the signatories included South Carolinians from Aiken, Branchville, Chapin, Charleston, Columbia, Cowpens, Fountain Inn, Greenville, Lexington, Rock Hill, Sharon, Spartanburg, Summerville and Whitmire. Also signing the register were visitors from California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. There were also two visitors from Germany, the first from outside America to visit the museum recently.
As is the case each month, the museum attract more than those who sign the register. Kelly said she spoke to one woman and urge her to sign the register and the woman she would. However, Kelly said the woman left without doing so, something many of the museum’s visitors do.
Visitors — both those who are making their first visit to the museum and those who visited it previously — are encouraged to sign the guest register so the museum can have an accurate count of how many visitors it has each month and for the year. The number of visitors is reported by the museum to the Board of Directors of the Union County Historical Society which owns the museum, Union County and City of Union which provide funding for the museum, the Union County Development Board, and the media. Kelly added that the number of visitors can also impact the museum’s efforts to secure grants from both public and private organizations that support museums.
In addition to signing their names and listing where they’re from, visitors are also encouraged to write comments about their experience at the museum in the guest register. While many don’t, those that do have had nothing but good things to say about the museum and it was no different in June.
• “Better than most museums.” — Union student
• “Thank you, very informative.” — Chapin
• “Moving to Union soon. Thanks.” — Spartanburg
• “Very beautiful museum.” — Los Angeles
• “Such a cool museum” — St, Louis, MO
• “Wonderful museum visit.” — Wilmington, DE
While most visitors tour the main floor with its displays and genealogical archives, the museum also has a downstairs meeting room which is often used by a variety of organizations each month. In June, those organizations included the Dow-Wat-Chers Club, Catawba Council on Aging, Piedmont District Chapter of the SC Genealogical Society, and UHS Class of 2002 Reunion Planning Committee.
In addition to the individuals, couples and families who visited in June, the museum also hosted two tours, both of them involving groups of young people spending their summers making a contribution to the community.
Rustic Pathways is program that provides high school students from around the country with summer community service and travel opportunities. The students select and pay for a program offered by Rustic Pathways that will enable them to gain experience in the field they hope to work in as adults. This year, Rustic Pathways brought a total of 32 students, some of them from as far away as New York and California, to Union County where they assisted with the Save The Children program at Monarch Elementary School. The Rustic Pathways students assisted Monarch and Foster Park Elementary School K-4 students enrolled in Save The Children with reading and computer assignments as well as physical activities and nutritional instruction.
During their time at Monarch, the Rustic Pathways students brought the students they were helping instruct to the museum. Kelly said the Rustic Pathways students enjoyed the experience so much they asked if they could come back and tour the museum again.
“I had a tour for the children they brought in, but they were so impressed they asked for a tour just for them,” Kelly said.
Another group of young people making a contribution to the community were the students enrolled in the Department of Natural Resources Youth Conservation Corps (YCC).
“That’s a program for young men and women who work with the Department of Natural Resources during the summer,” Kelly said. “The summer one of my sons worked for them they were building water fowl boxes at Lake Monticello.This year they were cleaning cemeteries. They came for a tour of the museum and then I took them to the Cross Keys House.”
Cross Keys House
The Cross Keys House, which is also owned by the Historical Society, was also busy in June, not only being visited by the YCC students, but also by a church group and serving as the site of a reunion that drew family members from across the country, as well as a wedding.
Kelly said the Miles Family, which she said is a branch of the Bobo Family, held its reunion at the house, drawing family members from Aiken, Hannahan, and Edgefield in South Carolina as well as San Francisco, CA; Houston, TX; Oklahoma City, OK; Tuscaloosa, AL; Tampa, FL; Snellville, GA; and Washington, VA.
Another group that visited the house was the Senior Citizens of Newberry United Methodist Church.
The grounds and some of the outbuildings at the Cross Keys House were the site of a wedding that Kelly said was attended by approximately 30 people. She said the wedding itself was held on the grounds. The wedding party stood on the porch of a log cabin on the property while the guests sat on bales of straw. Kelly added that the reception table was set up in the barn.
For more information about the Union County Museum, its displays, genealogical research facilities, meeting room and other services, call 429-5081. The museum is located at 127 W. Main St., Union, and is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 2-5 p.m.