UNION — The Union County Museum got an early Christmas present when Santa Claus brought more than a thousand visitors in November, many of them visiting during Christmas Open House.
Sponsored by the Union County Chamber of Commerce, Christmas Open House was held the evening of Nov. 15 in downtown Union on the section of Main Street between Enterprise and Church streets. A number of businesses and other institutions opened their doors for the event providing the public with food, entertainment, a visit from Santa, and the opportunity to get to know the local business community better and do a little early Christmas shopping.
Among the institutions that opened their doors was the museum which welcomed nearly 700 visitors in the three hours of Christmas Open House.
When a visitor enters the museum there is a guest register just inside the door that they are encouraged to sign. During open house, however, the museum used a donated clicker instead of the register to keep count of the number of visitors it received during the evening.
“We didn’t go with the register during Open House because we have a clicker at the front door,” Museum Director Ola Jean Kelly said. “We used the clicker donated by Mary Ellen Gregory. She, along with Ed Burwell, a member of the Union County Historical Society Board of Directors, and volunteer Bob Corn, took turns at the front door during Open House.”
Kelly said the final count for the evening was 689 visitors.
Like the visitors to the museum at other times of the year, those who visited the museum during Christmas Open House got to see the artifacts that help tell the story of Union County’s past. Unlike those other visitors, however, they did so to the accompaniment of live music provided by the students of the Union County strings program who performed Christmas carols in the museum’s library.
The number of people who visited the museum during Christmas Open House was nearly double the 364 individuals who signed the registry during their visits to the museum during the rest of November. This brought to 1,073 the total number of visitors to the museum in November, but Kelly pointed out that many of those who visit the museum don’t sign the register so the actual number of visitors is much higher.
In October, the museum had 424 registered visitors and 197 in September.
Visitors to the museum are also encouraged to write where they are from and while the majority are usually Union County residents, there are always a significant number from outside the county, the state, and, from time to time, the country.
In November, there were registered visitors from the South Carolina communities of Columbia, Cowpens, Irmo, Landrum, Moore, Pacolet, Spartanburg and Woodruff. There were also registered visitors from California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
While there were no registered visitors from outside the country in November, the museum had one visitor from the South American country of Colombia and six from the Asian country of Mongolia in August. One of the visitors from Mongolia was a Union native who brought his Mongolian wife and their children and her mother with them.
The visitor from Columbia was brought to the museum by a friend they were visiting in Jonesville.
In October, the museum had two visitors from Canada who were doing genealogical research.
Visitors are also encouraged to leave comments about their experience at the museum and, as usual, those who took the time to do so had nothing but good to say.
“Wonderful place” — Union
“I came to research my latest book.” — Christine Swager, noted Revolutionary War author
“Always a pleasure to visit Union, S.C.” — Georgia
“We learned a lot” — Buffalo Elementary School second grade
“Provided excellent map and genealogy information, beautiful museum.” — San Clemente, California
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 that the DAR, Union Motor Sports Club, Youth Leadership Union, Leadership Union, and the Dow-Wat-Chers Investment Club used room for their meetings during November.
Group tours are also conducted by the museum and in November there were tours by the Monarch Elementary School kindergarten, Buffalo Elementary School second grade, and the USC Union 101 class.
Cross Keys House
Kelly also announced that plans are under way to open the Cross House for six hours on Saturdays beginning in February. She said the Union County Historical Society is in the process of hiring two people to work at the house on alternating Saturdays to greet visitors and lead tours of the property.
Currently, the house is not open on a regular schedule, but is available for scheduled tours.
The Cross Keys House 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.
For more information about the Union County Museum, its displays, genealogical research facilities, meeting room and other services, call (864) 429-5081 or visit www.unioncountymuseum.com. The museum is located at 127 W. Main St. in Union, and is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.