Charles Warner Editor
October 1, 2013
UNION COUNTY — Women now make up nearly three quarters of the visitors to the Union County Museum’s Facebook site.
Museum Director Ola Jean Kelly reported that there were 33,666 unique hits on the museum’s Facebook site and that by the end of August the museum’s online fan base had grown to more than 1,000. Kelly attributed the site’s growing popularity to the old photographs of Union County the museum began posting online in February and has continued to post since then. She pointed out that the Aug. 29 posting of a photo of the late Frank O. Hill had 1,107 unique hits with 104 likes.
Kelly also pointed out the visitors to the site are overhelmingly female. She said that 73 percent of the viewers are females with women between the ages of 45-54 being the largest group. She said the heaviest viewing time is 9-10 p.m.
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 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.
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.
More Postcards For Sale
In July, Kelly announced that the museum’s gift shop has some of the postcards posted online available for sale. The cards available for sale at that time included two different scenes of Union’s Main Street, Union Mill, Buffalo Mill, the Court House, First Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church of the Nativity and the depot for the Union-Glenn Springs Railroad (BUC).
While those are still being sold, Kelly said the gift shop’s collection of postcards for sale grew during August. She said the gift shop is now also selling a postcard depicting Monarch Mill circa 1900 and one depicting Wallace Thomson Hospital circa 1950.
Visitors who sign the guestbook are also asked to write how they learned about the museum. The answers listed in the guestbook in August included learning about it from a relative, online, during a visit up town, and from a brochure at a Welcome Center.
Visitors to the museum are also asked to comment on their experience and, as they have in previous months, those that did had nothing but praise for it.
• Andarko, Oklahoma — “Great.”
• Manassas, Virginia “Great Work.”
• Lynn, Massachusetts, “Thanks for your time.”
• Charleston, S.C. — “Very cool.”
• Adrian, Texas — “Very nice Wish I could stay longer.”
• Daytona, Florida — “A wonderful walk down memory lane.”
Kelly also reported the number of paid memberships in the Union County Historical Society which owns the museum continued to increase in August. She said the museum’s presence online is a major factor in this with the museum continually receiving requests on Facebook for membership materials.
Meetings And Tours
In addition to the main floor which houses most of the artifacts on display, the museum has a meeting room in its basement that is available for use by local and area non-profit organizations. In August, the Friends of the Library Board and the Dow-watchers Investment Club used the meeting room.
Cross Keys Plantation
The historical society also owns the Cross Keys Plantation which was visited in 1865 by Confederate President Jefferson Davis and members of his cabinet during their flight south following the fall of the Confederate capital in Richmond, Va. The historic nature of the plantation and the efforts of the historical society to restore and improve it have made it an attractive draw for tourists. To accommodate the growing popularity of the house with tourists the historical society has opened the house and its grounds to visitors on Saturdays from noon until 5 p.m.
Kelly said the plantation continues to be a popular draw and that attendance was good in August. She said the Murphy and Bobo families held their reunions there during the month and that on one Saturday there were more than 30 visitors.
Another factor in the plantation’s popularity is the work of Will Sprouse who works there as a tour guide. Kelly said Sprouse has done extensive research on the house, its famous visitors and the families who lived there. She said his tours draw wonderful accolades.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.