UNION — The number of visitors to the Union County Museum’s online virtual exhibit of old photos of Union and postcards dating back to the 19th century more than doubled in March.
The exhibit began in early February when the museum posted 30 photos and postcards on Facebook. The postcards, some of them dating back to the 1880s, are a mixture of color and black and white. They depict historic landmarks, scenes from everyday life over the past 130 years and even the 1901 flood of the Pacolet River.
The businesses, churches, and other institutions as well as events depicted by the postcards and the photos 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.
Persons who are not Facebook members but are interested in viewing the exhibit can go through the museum’s website (unioncountymuseum.com) which provides a link, but those who are Facebook members can view the exhibit through the Union County Historical Society’s page. The postcards can not only be viewed, but can also be shared online by the viewers who can also post reminiscences and comments and vote for their favorites.
In March, Ola Jean Kelly, museum director, announced that as of the end of February, 10,986 people had “liked” the Union County Historical Society’s page and most of the likes were in response to the exhibit. Earlier this week, Kelly said that the response to the exhibit was even more overwhelming in March than in February. She said the number of visitors to the site more than doubled in March with 22,227 hits and 554 “fans.” In addition, Kelly said a number of the visitors to the site expressed an interest in joining the historical society and some already have.
“It’s been much larger than we had anticipated,” Kelly said. “We’ve had a number of people express an interest in joining the historical society. We’ve sent information packages to those people and three have already joined, one of them from Texas. These are people who used to live in Union County.”
Kelly said the new members bring the society’s membership to well over 400.
Just as interest in the online exhibit has continued to grow, the museum’s online offerings are also continuing to grow.
Peter Triggiani, assistant director, said Thursday that the “Historical Union Postcards Online” exhibit now totals 76 postcards while the photos posted on the “Early Union Online” exhibit now totals 76. He said there is also a “Remembering Union Mill” exhibit that has more than 200 photos.
Triggiani said that a new exhibit, entitled “Legendary Faces From Union’s Civil War History,” is in the process of being placed online. The exhibit will include photos of Civil War 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.
In addition to online visitors, Kelly said 140 people signed the museum’s guest book while visiting the museum in March. The South Carolina visitors from outside Union County included residents from Cross Anchor, Easley, Greenville, Greer, Laurens, Roebuck, Simpsonville, Spartanburg, Woodruff and York. The 26 visitors from outside South Carolina were from Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas.
Kelly said many of these visitors where genealogical researchers, some of whom got a surprise when they began doing their research.
“We’ve had some who came in and thought they could check our outstanding collection in 30 or 40 minutes and they ended up staying three or four days,” Kelly said.
The visitors also included the family of Chris Owenby, a Union County native who is a missionary in Mongolia. Owenby, his Mongolian wife, their three children, and his mother-in-law are spending a year in South Carolina before returning to Mongolia in August. This was the family’s third visit to the museum since arriving in Union County and Kelly said the two girls especially enjoy the toys and the games in the museum’s Children’s Corner.
The basement of the museum is used each month by local groups for meetings, and Kelly said in March the DAR and the Dow-watcher Investment Club held meetings there.
In addition to signing the guest book, visitors to the museum are also asked leave comments about their experience. No one has left a negative comment about their visit to the museum and that continued to be the case in March.
• Spartanburg — “Awesome.” (The Spartanburg resident’s visit was suggested by his grandmother.)
• Union — “A+”
• Woodruff — “Thanks for being here.”
• Alabama (genealogical researcher) — “Amazing”
• North Carolina couple (buying a house here) — “Fabulous”
• North Carolina (new member) — “Looks great, interesting displays, especially the still.”
Cross Keys House
One of the most famous historical sites in Union County is the Cross Keys House which was visited in 1865 by Confederate President Jefferson Davis who dined there on his way south following the fall of the Confederate capital in Richmond, Va., to the Union army. Davis’ visit is reenacted during the Living History programs at the house. The next Living History event is scheduled for April 27 and 28.
The house is owned by the historical society which in March began opening it from noon to five p.m. for visitors and guided tours. Kelly said that there were 26 visitors to the house the last Saturday in march.
For more information about the Union County Museum call 429-5081.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.