UNION — A total of more than 600 people from throughout the United States and Canada visited the Union County Museum during the months of September and October.
Ola Jean Kelly, museum director, said there were 197 registered visitors to the museum in September.
Many visitors were Union County residents, but Kelly said there were also a number of visitors from other South Carolina communities including Boiling Springs, Columbia, Enoree, Greenville, Greenwood, Inman, Laurens, McCormick, Pacolet, Rock Hill, Roebuck, Sharon, Spartanburg, and Taylors.
There were also visitors from Alabama, California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Nevada.
Kelly said there 424 registered visitors in October, with nearly one-in-10 being from outside South Carolina, two of them from outside the United States.
“We had about 40 visitors from out of state: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Minnesota and North Carolina,” Kelly said. “The Foster brothers from Edmonton, Canada, were our international visitors. They come almost every year to do genealogical research and stay two to four weeks.”
Kelly added that the Foster brothers are part of a growing number of visitors who are taking advantage of the museum’s resources for genealogical research. She said this is having an impact on the local economy.
“Our requests for research continues to grow and the number of out-of-state visitors, looking for their families, who decide to come personally has increased,” Kelly said. “Some stay for days spending money at our motels, restaurants and shops.
“The requests for genealogical research assistance have constantly increased,” she said. “One couple from another part of the state stopped in saying they had about two hours to do research. They stayed two and a half days. Last week we had three different groups researching the Gault family and none of them knew the other. Quite interesting.”
In addition to the visitors from Canada and from across the United States, Kelly said there were registered visitors in October from the South Carolina communities of Aiken, Boiling Springs, Columbia, Enoree, Gaffney, Greenville, Greenwood, Greer, Hanahan, Hartsville, Lexington, Lydia, Moore, Prosperity, Rock Hill, Spartanburg and West Columbia.
The ranks of registered visitors in October also included a number of Union County residents.
Registered visitors are visitors who sign the museum’s guest book during their visit. Visitors are also encouraged to write where they are from.
Kelly said the increase in the number of visitors between September and October was due to the number of tours that take place every year after the end of summer.
“Schools and scout troops do tours and groups start using the meeting room,” Kelly said. “They all start to increase once summer is over. Another thing that increased our number of visitors was that we hosted the state meeting of the S.C. Genealogical Society.”
In addition to signing their names and listing where they are from, visitors are also encouraged to write comments about their experience at the museum. Everyone who has ever visited the museum and wrote about their experience has had nothing but good things to say about it and this continued to be the case in September and October.
The comments in September included:
“Very interesting, thanks for your help.” — California doing research
“Thanks for your help.” — Texas doing family search
“Wonderful.” — Nevada
“Great place.” — Greenwood
“A wonderful tour and an outstanding collection of artifacts.” — Spartanburg
“Fascinating and inspiring. I will be back!” — Georgia
The comments in October included:
“History at its best. Very informative.” — Connecticut
“Amazing.” — Georgia
“So much history. Thanks.” — Tennessee (Grew up in Union)
“This stuff is cool.” — Student visiting with her grandmother
Kelly said a new line was added to the register in October. In addition to being asked to sign the register, list where they are from, and comment on their visit, Kelly said visitors are now asked, “How did you learn about the Museum?”
“We found that many are finding us on our website,” Kelly said. “Other responses were newspaper, family and friends, a fellow church member, drove past and walked in off the street.”
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 organizations.
Kelly said the Daughters of the American Revolution used the meeting room for their monthly meetings in both September and October. The Union Music Club also met in the meeting room in September and staffers with U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s office used it to meet with constituents.
In October, Kelly said the meeting room was used by Youth Leadership Union, Leadership Union, Union County Clemson Club, Dow-watchers Investment, State Genealogical Society, and Troop 42 Cub Scouts.
Kelly said the museum also participated in the Farm Show at the Union County Fairgrounds.
The museum had a booth at the show with displays on the era “When Cotton Was King” which featured photos of some of the old cotton gins, and handouts of a story about the celebrations surrounding the ginning of the cotton.
Cross Keys House
The Cross Keys House is another major part of the historical legacy of Union County that the museum is involved with. Like the museum itself, the house, which was visited by Confederate president Jefferson Davis in 1865, draws many visitors. October was no different, and Kelly said plans are to increase the number of hours the house is open to visitors.
“Touring the house were members of the Old English Tourism District, The S.C. Welcome Center Personnel, The S.C. Genealogical Society and a couple who flew in from Texas just to see the house, the wife being descended from the Bobo family,” Kelly said. “We are currently interviewing individuals to keep the house open for six hours each Saturday. On December 1 the Cross Keys House will be on the Homes Tour sponsored by the Union Health Care Foundation.”