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On Saturday October 3rd we had the annual Cordova Fall Festival. Although turnout was smaller than last year, I am sure the weather had an impact. It only got to 54 degrees and quite blustery. Our Cordova Museum may have had record attendance. There was so much interest and got so many postive reviews in our Sign In Log Book.
We were really excited about the crowd and really was the boost we needed to know that we are on a postive path and will work hard to maintain this rich heritage. A more detailed News letter will be coming very soon with more precise details.
Thanks for everyone's support.
Cecil Redditt, Museum Board President
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM YOUR BOARD PRESIDENT
The newsletter will come quarterly until further notice We are looking for volunteers for the Museum. Please contact any of the Board Members that are listed on the "Museum Board of Directors" section of this site
July has been a rugged month is some ways. First, for those of you not living in the Mid-South, count yourself lucky. The weather has been brutal. Museum attendance suffered due to the intense heat and due to another program running at the Community Center throughout the summer.
A new two-part Memorial Exhibit honoring Mr. Richard Schwam, Cordova’s Cowboy, who died recently, has been completed. Our Director, Darlene Hooker Sawyer, created this pictorial exhibit from photos submitted by Becky Stillions, volunteer and Museum Board member, from photos found in the museum’s collection and those submitted by the Schwam family.
You need to know about several changes regarding how to contact Cordova Museum from this point forward:
Website: WWW.CORDOVAMUSEUM.COM then click on the “Contact Us’ tab.
Phone: 901-440-8226 (Please remove 901-581-***8 as a good contact number)
This is the last time you will receive a Newsletter from the CORDOVAMUSEUM@GMAIL.COM address. This is also Darlene’s personal account and has been for many years. She will be transitioning to a new address at SAWYER.DARLENE@YAHOO.COM. If you are so inclined to contact her in the future, I am sure she would be delighted to hear from friends she made while being our Director. The Museum will be transitioning to its own email account as mentioned above. We felt Newsletter would wind up in many spam folders if we didn’t give a notice prior to a changeover.
Sadly, I have to announce that Darlene resigned her position as Director on July 19, 2015, after five years of hard work and total dedication to this institution. There were many reasons for her decision, but if I had to summarize, I would say that longstanding, unresolved issues that she felt would hinder the growth and limit the success of the museum were primary in her making the choice to leave.
I have had the privilege to work for, and side-by-side with, Darlene for over two years. You may recall I was, for five years, Historian and then Assistant Director of what was then called the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque. I can say without reservation that I never met another museum professional who gave more of themselves to this calling than Darlene. I’m afraid the soul of our museum has been lost. A replacement for Darlene may be found, but it will never be another Darlene.
aka Your Plucky Scribe
This is Jim Wadell reporting to you about the activities of the
Museum for the month of June.
The Museum has been managing to keep regular business hours
of operation thus far through the summer.
Attendance has been very slow of late, due in part to the rental of the
whole building to the YMCA Camp for their children’s summer program. We know people are hesitant to stop in for
fear of intruding in planned events when they see cars and activity
The Explore Memphis program has brought several new visitors
early in this month, though their numbers have dropped off of late. Quite a few
said they didn’t know that Cordova had a museum and had never been inside the
historic building before. Many of these visitors lived within a short
distance. Some were from the Bartlett
and Memphis. They were all pleased to
find such a little jewel of a museum hidden away and still virtually unknown.
As many of you know, Darlene Sawyer, our Director, has been
diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. She is still on
medical leave, and without her enthusiasm and planning of field trips and other
things for the community, it has affected the Museum quite a bit. She is doing well, but please continue to
keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she works her way through this medical
process and follow up care.
Memorial for Mr. Richard Lee Schwam
The Museum has received $200 in donations that will be used
in making of a pictorial memorial for Mr. Richard Schwam – Cordova’s Cowboy -
who died recently at the age of 94. Mr.
Richard was born and raised in Cordova.
He was born August 16, 1920 to John Henry Schwam and Jennie Poston
Schwam and was the youngest of seven sons and four daughters who are all now
deceased. Mr. Schwam died on June 1,
2015 leaving numerous relatives still in the Cordova area. He was a member of the Cordova Presbyterian
Church and well loved by the community.
Mr. Richard’s means of transportation was by horse his
entire lifetime. Many claim to have seen
him riding far from Cordova in his younger days. Some say he had a lantern to
light his way back home after dark. He made many friends far and wide as he
took time to stop and visit while riding down the streets of Cordova. He delighted to give children rides on the
horse and always enjoyed talking to anyone that had time.
Mr. Richard was age 92 the last time he rode his horse in
the July 4th Parade at the Cordova Community Center. Many knew him by name, but many others only
knew him as “THE MAN THAT RIDES THE HORSE IN CORDOVA.”
Mr. Richard Schwam will forever be remembered as a Cordova icon. The Museum wishes to thank those that sent in donations.
America's Birthday Celebration
As we leave June and enter July, don't forget the Museum
will be open during the annual 4th of July Parade that will be held on the
streets surrounding the Community Center.
The program will begin at approximately 9:00 a.m. with the parade
beginning immediately thereafter. Come
out, stand proud and tall, and salute Old Glory as we celebrate the birthday of
the greatest nation on earth - our United States of America!
Until next time,
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The month of May has been filled with a number of different happenings at the Museum. This is Jim Wadell reporting.
Museum Board Meeting
We had another good board meeting this month. All of the Board members are bonding nicely into a good team. Bill Massey, a member of the Cordova Community Center Board, has attended our meetings, offering good information and observations from that direction.
Cordova Museum will be participating in the Explore Memphis program offered by the Memphis Public Library. Participants are encouraged to go out and learn about where they live. Free passes are given for participating locations. Cordova Museum will be participating in this event from June 1 through July 26. We may also provide a presentation on Cordova’s history at one or more of the Library’s 18 locations.
Visitor of the Month
Our visitor of the month is Richard Redditt. He not only stopped by to the see the Museum, but also brought an artifact. Richard attended Cordova School from 1956 to 1964. He recalls that his favorite teacher was “Miss Sue, a sweet lady who never paddled me.” He also had fond memories of all his classmates, particularly the girls whom he had a crush on. Richard graduated from Germantown High School in 1969. He served in Viet Nam for 1 ½ years. Leaving the army, he took up carpentry and construction work in Memphis, retiring in 2010. He is currently living in North Carolina. Richard claims to “have more hobbies than money,” spending time in building furniture as well as doing home repairs. Richard brought with him a sturdy wooden swivel chair that had been used in the Cordova train station, with the initials “NC&SLR” (Nashville, Chattanooga & St Louis Railway) engraved on the back. It makes a great companion piece for the train station bench we have had for years. Thanks to Richard for his generosity and finding the right home for this old chair.
Advent Presbyterian Church on Germantown Parkway asked for a presentation on Cordova history on May 14. I was their speaker and gave them a PowerPoint presentation on the history of Cordova, the Cordova School, and the evolution of the Museum at this senior citizen luncheon. Approximately 50 seniors were in attendance. I told them I always liked to talk to people who knew and remembered the same presidents as me.
Another Plea for Photos
You have always heard that “a picture is worth a million words,” and that is really true. Photos are a tangible link to the past and invaluable in recording history. Unfortunately, every day a vast number of photos are destroyed or thrown away because heirs have no idea who or what has been captured on film. If you have photos of people, places or things that relate to Cordova history, please, please share them with us. Take the effort to identify, in pencil on the back of the photo, the whos, whats, wheres, and whens and bring these to the Museum as a donation, or share them with us through allowing us to scan and preserve them digitally. We have a streamlined process to do so that is quick and easy. We just need your input to make it work!
Some Closing Words of Appreciation
As many of you know, our Director, Darlene Sawyer, has been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. She has done a ton of research on this topic, consulted and coordinated with numerous doctors, and has determined a course of action. She will have surgery on June 11 and will be on a medical leave of absence from the Museum for a convalescent period of about six weeks. Many of you have already given her great reassurance through emails, texts, phone calls and in person. This has given her an uplift in spirits. Please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she works her way through this medical process and follow up care.
I must add that cancer has also confronted my family. My wife, Roz, had a malignant colon polyp recently and is currently undergoing chemotherapy until the end of August. Thus far she has had no problems resulting from the treatment. Thanks to all of you who have inquired about how she was faring.
Until next time,
aka “Your plucky scribe”
You may unsubscribe from the Cordova Museum newsletters at any time. Reply with the subject line "UNSUBSCRIBE" from the address that is to be removed. If you have friends that would like to receive the newsletters ask them to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "ADD ME" from the address wishing to subscribe. Other ways to stay in touch is www.CordovaMuseum.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/CordovaMuseum/.
will seem to drag along and other times it speeds by in the blink of an
eye. It seems an eternity from when
momentum was gathered to establish a Museum board, but I am delighted to say
things have begun falling in place and as of April 6, the State of Tennessee
has filed our Charter which designates Cordova Museum as a Nonprofit
Corporation as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of
1986. We also now have an Employer
Identification Number (EIN) for use in business and tax matters. The Museum can
now proceed financially as an entity.
Board meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 4:30 pm in the Museum. Our most
recent meeting was April 7. The meeting went exceptionally well and addressed a
number of issues. Board minutes are available for review in the Museum. Our
next meeting is May 5.
We are excited
about the publication of another book this year! Darlene Sawyer, Museum Director, has worked for
more than three years transcribing oral history interviews for the new books’
manuscript. The book will be published to raise funds for the Museum. Plans are
to have a book signing in conjunction with a music social. More details will
follow in a future newsletter when we determine when this will take place.
The Museum would
like to continue conducting oral interviews to add to its collection. If you have a family member that grew up in
Cordova who remembers the flower farms, attended old Cordova School
and is related to many of the families in the Cordova area, then please call
the Museum to schedule an interview. We
have a list of questions to ask them in order to start the flow of conversation
that will be taped. The taped interview
will be transcribed and a typed copy shared with the interviewee who will then be
asked to then edit or amend it to clarify what was meant. Allowing the editing
of the interview puts the interviewee at ease as they know that it reads
exactly as intended. Give us a call at
(901) 440-8226 if you or a family member would like to participate.
Darlene also attended
the annual Shelby County History Festival held at Hillwood Hall over at Davies
Manor on Sunday, March 29, from Noon to 4:00 pm. This is her third year in
attendance to represent Cordova
Museum. Also in
attendance were Cecil Redditt, Museum Board President, and his wife Brenda, Betty
Chinery, the Board Secretary, and Becky Stillions, the Museum’s Photographer.
If you have not attended one of these events, make plans to
go next year and meet lots of historians and speak to them about the
organizations they are involved in and when and where they meet. Check out the
history books available for purchase. See how beautiful it is at Davies Manor
Plantation. You’re sure to enjoy seeing all the re-enactors wearing period
clothing as the walk the grounds.
spoke to a group of Shelby County Historical Commission members at Shelby
County Archives on April 9. She was nice
enough to take me along to tote things and serve as timekeeper. Her
presentation on our Museum and what we do was well received.
I would like
to remind you of the FREE Ancestry.com offered at the Museum. This is normally
$30 a month for home subscriptions. It
is a wonderful tool to access census records, death and military records, and
even immigration information. You will need to do a little bit of prep work
before coming. First, write down everything you know about your family starting
with parents and grandparents. You
should check in old family Bibles for names, births and deaths. These are clues to help you with your research. You can also look on the back of old photographs
for names, dates and locations. Talk to oldest family members and get them to
share memories and look through the photos with them to identify family members.
Now that you have gathered this vital information, you should take advantage of
FREE Ancestry.com at the Museum. Please
stop by anytime on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.
While you may
be hunting though old photographs, remember the Museum would like to scan any old
photographs of early settlers from the Cordova area, including photos of historic
homes, buildings, schools, landscapes, social gatherings, farms, family
reunions, etc. The Museum has over 3,000 photos and documents already on file
that are digitized, tagged and ready to share.
Some have been published in fundraiser books. Others were shown to
Museum visitors who were able to see their own ancestors for the first time.
Put any photos
you would like to bring to the Museum in a Ziplock bag and write your name on
the outside of the bag. We will scan them instantly while you wait. If you don’t have time to wait, we can scan
them and will put them back in the same Ziplock bag and hold them until they
are picked up at your convenience. You will need to sign a form with your name,
address, phone, and date to leave your photos. We also need to know who or what
EACH picture is of, approximate date and where taken. Photos are priceless if
identified, and if not they become worthless. Please question the oldest family
members to make sure your old photos are left as family heirlooms, and let us
know if we can help to preserve and share them.
ANOTHER BIG RESEARCH BONUS
reason to come by and start your own family research is that it may be
beneficial to discover illnesses experienced by your ancestors, to document
this for your health records and to pass this information along to your
children. Our director, Darlene Sawyer, found this to be true when just weeks
ago she was diagnosed with an abnormal mammogram, resulting in a biopsy and
prognosis of early stage breast cancer. In her own words below, she explains
why knowing her family’s medical history helped.
have always loved documenting family history, but I never really thought about
the importance of gathering the medical history. Today I faced some pretty tough
decisions. Thankfully, I knew enough about some of the health problems of close
maternal and paternal families. I guess we all laugh (sometimes get mad) when
asked to fill out answers to questions at the doctor’s office about "our
relatives" and what diseases they had or didn't have, what age they were when
diagnosed, and so on. Goodness, it seems just
overwhelming, and I am doing good to provide answers to questions about myself.
Why would they ask about my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles? This is silly. Or is it? When we are young we don't know - and don't
care, simple as that. We can't imagine what they have to do with us and our
visit to the doctor for a sore throat and allergies! Perhaps all the family members didn't go
around speaking about their medical problems. Maybe they were very private and
didn't share this information or didn't want to be a complainer. Perhaps we
just didn't ask them and never realized how that information could be important
to us. From now on, I will encourage everyone to gather medical history. It is
important and helps in medical diagnosis. Today I would have been advised to
have a simple lumpectomy followed by daily radiation for 5 - 6 weeks. Because I
knew a lot of my family’s medical history, I was able to request a consultation
and genetic testing that may alter my treatment to a more preventive measure. So,
there really is a reason the doctors ask these questions as we fill out our
medical history. If you want to help your own children and grandchildren, then
take time to document who in your family had cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.,
and at what age diagnosed. They will be glad you did!”
is taking some time off to consult with doctors and will soon be undergoing
treatment. While she’s taking time away, there are volunteers rotating to try
and keep the Museum open during the same hours. Without Darlene, a lot of
energy leaves the Museum, but it is our challenge to keep the door open and
continue with the wonderful public service she has provided over the years. We
have developed and conducted docent training so the Museum won’t revert to the “storeroom
only open on occasion” like it once was. While the schedule may get a little
ragged at times, we have pretty much got a lock on who is working when in May.
We will take ‘em one month at a time. If you have a day you could devote to
being a docent on a regular basis, please contact me; we’ll set up training and
work you into the schedule. Darlene left
us with plenty of notes and instructions but mostly advised us to “have
fun.” There is a lot that she did that
we were unaware of, but most importantly she loved what she did and that is
what she wishes for us to do.
on a final note, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she strives to
get totally well.
Until Next Time!
Jim Wadell aka Your Plucky Scribe
I hoped to have wonderful news to report about the process of establishing 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization but I cannot give you any new information. We have been waiting for proof that good things are happening. While feeling a bit stymied, we have established a Board of Directors and have been already working and planning.
The people who rallied to support the museum are some of the best people I have ever met. To see them all working together on ways to keep the museum afloat is simply amazing. And even more people are behind the scenes, having already been connected with the museum by serving as volunteers and who are on standby should they be needed also as board members. I view it as divine intervention, nothing short of miraculous. That’s how I see it. They are a blessing to me. Let's introduce them.
From left to right: Cecil Redditt, Jim Wadell, Betty Chinery, Jane Hooker, Bonnie Pinkston, then me – Darlene Sawyer, Mary Smith, Barbara Tucker, Gary Rogers and Becky Stillions.
While this is not the best picture of our group, it will do until we can get a better picture soon, perhaps on the steps of the entrance to our beloved old Cordova School building. Several of these people are former students. Those are Cecil, me, Mary, Barbara, Gary, and Jane’s late husband. Many of us had parents who were students, and Cecil’s mother was a Cordova School teacher.
Cecil has served on several boards, most recently as CFO for the non-profit Mid-South Rally supporting Wounded Warriors. He has been trained in leadership and management. He has a long family history in the community. Cecil will serve as the Museum Board President.
Jim Wadell comes to the board offering five years of museum experience as the assistant director of the National Atomic Museum, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the only one with a museum background, but we blend his skills with my roots and pride in Cordova to improve our museum in numerous ways. We work good in tandem and make a great team. Jim is a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and will serve as the Museum Board Sergeant of Arms.
Betty Chinery is involved in many historical organizations, serving on their boards, and in planning events at her church to include the production of the church’s weekly newsletter. She has an unbounded love of history and had training in marketing museums to attract and maintain membership. Betty will serve as the Cordova Museum Secretary.
Dr. Jane Hooker has served on thirteen boards at the national, regional, state, local, University of Memphis levels concerning, among other things, athletics, special needs, sports and church. She is a local historian and genealogist who will benefit the museum’s outreach in helping the community with local history research. She is the Museum Historian and Genealogy Consultant. She is also a Platinum Level supporter of the Museum.
Bonnie Pinkston is the granddaughter of Dr. G. F. Pinkston, the first and only African American doctor practicing on Lenow Road when Cordova was a rural area. Bonnie has served on boards of several different organizations in areas of culture, arts, abuse, women and teens. She has internet and computer skills as well as skills in event planning.
Mary Smith has a background in finance for non-profits and serves as financial secretary for two churches. She knows accounts payable, receivables, payroll, taxes, statements, and generates monthly and annual reports. She provides assistance to the church’s finance committee in budget preparation. Of course, Mary will be the Cordova Museum Treasurer.
Barbara Tucker has been active with Girls Scouts for over fifty years, serves on the board of East Memphis Kiwanis Club and was their former President. She is also involved in other organizations that support outstanding young students and community.
Gary Rogers serves on the board of directors for The Secercy and Nannie Harris Scholarship Foundation. He is an Elder of his church and has a long time family history connection to Cordova. He will be helping the museum advance in efforts to collect, digitize and preserve the local African American history. He will serve as Cordova Museum Vice President.
Becky Stillions has been an enormous asset to Cordova Museum in offering her talent in photography for free to assist in advertising and with exhibits. Her images have been used in local newspapers, magazines, and even restaurants, which help promote the museum and in its outreach to the community. Her photographs have been used in our museum’s brochures, business cards and rack cards. Her husband is also a key player in offering photographic assistance to the museum.
That only leaves me, Darlene Sawyer, and most of you know me and what it is that I do at the museum. I am the Cordova Museum Curator/Director. My family settled in this area in 1836 so I have a connection to the area and people of the community. Heck, I’m related to almost everyone who is a long time member of the community! I love genealogy and preserving old photos, and that has been my hobby for over 25 years.
Working at the museum allows me to assist others in preservation of their own family history and in collecting and digitizing photos and documents that may otherwise be stashed away in a sock drawer and at high risk of being lost forever in case of a home fire or other disaster. These things can easily be scanned to a computer, tagged and shared with other immediate family members and even long lost cousins; and this was never an option in the past for many. Some of the older citizens still have so much information that needs to be pulled out and brought in for scanning. I also love to interview the older citizens of the community and have worked hard to put all of the information gathered in files, on display, digitized on the computer and in published books.
I truly enjoy visiting cemeteries to photograph tombstones because they do not last forever. They become hard to read due to time and weather and are always at risk of damage falling tree limbs and such. It’s great fun to locate forgotten cemeteries and photograph stones found there. Believe it or not, it is very rewarding to pull out a small bag of flour and rub the stone to see the name and dates suddenly appear that were not visible before. Ok, that’s enough about me and what I do.
We can always use help at the museum, and I am always happy to see new people wanting to get involved. We need ‘positive’ people that are ‘optimistic’ about the little museum doing great things for the community. You’ll need to enjoy meeting new people and in speaking to them to share the history of the building and town. If interested, come by and sign up for your preference of day and time that you would like to get involved. I am not able to remember who needs what day or what hours so a form is at the museum that helps me to organize work schedules.
I do have some good news and bad news. Bad news is that Jim Wadell’s wife had surgery and is going to need post surgery attention. He is the Museum’s Assistant Director, and he and I have worked together every Tuesday and some Saturdays. His wife is on the mend, but Jim is uncertain how helping her during her convalescence will affect his weekly work in the museum. This is where the schedule mentioned above will come in handy.
Good news is that Jim’s daughter is visiting from California, and she had a chance to visit with Jim at the museum. I captured the two of them as they sat doing genealogy. Lara has done an excellent job of using Ancestry.com at home to build a family tree. She even recently made a trip to Salt Lake City to learn more about how to do research. Jim sat with her, looking at family photos, and was most interested in how she had gathered all the photos and discovered his ancestors. Some of the names he recognized, but many of her discoveries were new to him. It was a joy to see the two of them sharing stories and Lara explaining all the things she had learned about their family.
Jim Wadell and daughter Lara Kelley
Cordova Museum will have a table at the annual Shelby County History Festival held at Davies Manor Plantation in the Hillwood Hall on Sunday, March 29, from Noon to 4:00 pm. You can tour the Manor home free while there. Plan to join us this Sunday and see the many organizations that you can visit or become involved in as you speak to some of the historians.
Until Next time!
Usually it is Jim Wadell - museum
volunteer – that writes the monthly newsletters. This time, I have something
very important to say so I will write this newsletter – Darlene Sawyer. (Jim
can add additional comments at the end if he wishes.)
We sent out an earlier notice that our January
Newsletter was being put on hold until some information became available that
was more than speculation. Since then a
number of things has happened that allows me to give a general overview and
Basically, the main difficulty was the
Museum’s finances. One thing hamstringing
us was not having a 501(c)(3) (tax exempt) status to reference when submitting
grant applications. If we tried to use
the 501(c)(3) status of the Cordova Community Center (CCC) in our grant
submissions, the chances of grants being awarded were very slim. The wording of their 501(c)(3) does not apply
to the museum or history. Another
stumbling block was that I was not successful in finishing a new fundraiser
book like intended before the end of last year.
So, few funds were available for Museum operations, and things looked so
bleak that I was seriously considering offering my resignation as Director.
However, on two recent occasions in
February, productive meetings were held between the CCC Board and me, along
with former students, several community leaders and Museum volunteers. Now consideration is being given to allow the
Museum more freedom to have its own Board of Directors and financial management.
Details are still being worked out so I am not at liberty to explain things in
greater detail at this time.
A book on Cordova’s oral history is
still viable. I have conducted additional
interviews and have teamed up with photographer Becky Stillions to illustrate
the book of transcriptions with colored prints of Cordova’s historic buildings. Once funding is replenished, this book will
be used to rally support of the community through purchases that will benefit
Cordova’s history is being threatened slowly
by being sucked away due to the passage of time and the town’s unsuccessful
attempt at incorporation. The Museum, I
believe, can play a significant part in holding tight to and preserving this
I established a clear purpose for the
Museum: “To promote community bonding through an appreciation of local history.” By keeping with a mission “To collect,
preserve and present the school and town’s history and to document, preserve
and share the lineage of Cordova’s early settlers and their neighbors” our little
Museum has the potential to do this and much more. These things are important!
A challenge of a $15,000 matching grant
has been offered to the Museum if it is successful in matching this amount with
its own fundraising efforts and in establishing its own 501(c)(3). Instead of resigning as Director due to no
funding, I am now encouraged with hopes of soon having a Board of Directors to
work with alongside the CCC Board, the volunteers and community in support of
keeping the Museum open.
Ways to reach the goal of the matching
grant is a community concern as it affects us all. So is the concern of finding ways to preserve
the historic building and helping the Community Center Board. We need your ideas and suggestions. We need your willingness to get involved. We need your heart and your concern for the
community in which you live. We are but
one person if we stand alone but together we can accomplish much as a team.
In spite of all these distractions, I
have still tried to be upbeat and think of new and different things the Museum
can offer its friends in Cordova and elsewhere.
How about walking tours of Cordova’s business district. Jimmy Ogle, Shelby County Historian, offers
walking tours of Memphis, so why can’t we do walking tours for Cordova? That is what we plan to do starting this
spring! Who wouldn’t enjoy learning the
history of the old Cordova School building, then proceeding next door to see
the tombstones of Mary Williams and Jim Allen for whom the town was named in
its early days? Next would be stops at
the Presbyterian Church and Baptist Church then proceeding down Rocky Point
where one would see the well preserved home of Dr. Parrott, and, down further,
the old Train Depot. Across the street
is a whole row of historic buildings to visit and learn about. What a wonderful opportunity to stop and rest
while eating soup and a sandwich at Café Fontana. While there, learn the history of that home and
property! Other field trips like this
are being considered such as cemetery tours in search of early settlers and
visits to other historic spots. For
sure, genealogical presentations on how to start your own family tree research
and scrapbook will be on the agenda.
There is still an awful lot to do, but
please know that I am very enthused with the new challenges and feel, that with
your support, the sky is the limit for the Museum I love so much! I will keep you advised of how things
Let me introduce you to Luther and
Shirley Harville who are being spotlighted as recent visitors. They live on the
Mississippi Gulf Coast, in Biloxi. They
have been to the little Cordova Museum several times. This is their third or
fourth visit since they first learned of the Museum back in 2013. Nice
people like these make all our efforts worthwhile. We asked them a few questions after selecting
them as our most interesting visitors of the month. We wanted to know how they knew of the Museum
and what they liked best that kept them returning.
Luther Harville from Biloxi, MS
asked the following questions:
- How did you know about the building and museum?
the sign on Macon Road that captured our attention. Then saw your sign and
- What was your initial impression after visiting
building reminded me of my childhood school. The museum is very informative
toward the history of Cordova.”
- What have you enjoyed most?
thoroughly enjoy visiting with Ms. Darlene.
We keep coming back to view the additions of the collections.”
- Would you recommend us to your
“Yes! We have referred several individuals to visit
- Do you have any suggestions that would make our
Darlene! She is a treasure.”
is so interesting to me the Harvilles find time to visit anytime they are
traveling through this area, and yet there are still people right here in
Shelby and neighboring counties that do not know that we are here. I went to the doctor this week down on
Trinity, and while being checked in I asked the receptionist if she knew we had
a museum in Cordova. “No! Where is it?” We still have work to do in
you walk into the door of the Museum there is a display that has been used to
highlight the Visitors of the Month. I
would also like to use this board to post public comments and feedback. Has the Museum been beneficial to you in any
way? Let us hear back! Did your visit to Cordova Museum help you
discover a picture of one of your ancestors?
Were you stumped in your genealogy research and were able to break
through this wall with assistance you were given at the Museum? Did you enjoy a field trip offered, and how
did that benefit you? Were you able to
make new friends through the Museum?
Perhaps even meeting up with distant cousins you had never met through
the Museum? Whatever it may be, if there
is something you can write in a sentence or paragraph or even page, please send
it in so we can lift our spirits by posting these comments in a display. If any good was done, please let us hear
lose heart when things fall apart. It
just means they’re about to be put back together in a new and better way!” ~
Wow! I have finally wrested the quill and inkwell
away from Darlene who really waxed eloquent this time. I cannot add a single thought to what she has
said except to say that, indeed, the sky in the limit so get your flight suits
on and come join us in the journey getting there!
aka Your Plucky
especially busy this time of year, even the Museum Director and
Volunteers. Still, we managed to execute
one of the highlights of the year with the unveiling of a new exhibit, which is
described below, on December 2nd.
“Wait a minute,”
you say. “Haven’t we already heard about this?” Well, yes and no. Earlier this
year we hosted Crye-Leike Realtors from the Cordova office. This month we went
a bit north and east and invited Crye-Leike Realtors from Arlington. Darlene
gave her usual concise, yet entertaining, historical overview to an audience of
some eighteen realtors. They were a very
receptive group who got a lot of insight into Cordova’s past before visiting
the museum itself.
Darlene Sawyer Greeting Guests Jim Wadell
Handing Out Information John
Criswell & Realtors
…and New Exhibit
The major focus of the Crye-Leike
visit was the unveiling of a new exhibit which has thirty-two exquisite color
photographs of historic homes and buildings in Cordova. These photographs were taken
by museum volunteer and professional photographer, Becky Stillions (seen in the
picture with Darlene) and her photographer husband, Harlan Stillions (not
pictured). Darlene is thrilled with the outcome of the exhibit and thrilled
with the friendship she has established with Harlan and Becky. She says, “They never cease to amaze me with
their talent and in freely using it to help the museum. Maybe they just want to help me a little bit,
This exhibit took
a lot of hard work and attention starting with the photography and editing of
the images on down to the planning and execution of presentation. The photos were displayed in chronological
order, making them a visual timeline. Each photograph was assigned a number
corresponding with a map and accompanying legend showing locations of these
historic places. If you haven’t seen this exhibit, come by and check it out. I
guarantee you will be impressed.
If you are still
puzzling over what to get Aunt Minnie this yuletide season, and she happens to
like history, we can fix you right up!
How about a copy of either the Old
Cordova Memories book - $30 (we
have only about twelve copies left) or Cordova
- $20 (less than twenty-five available.) They make wonderful gifts for anyone
with ties to Cordova School or who has an interest in Cordova's early
history. Heck, they just make good
reading regardless of a person’s specific interests!
The museum will
be closed December 21 through January 5.
Like everyone else, we like to take a few days to do last minute things
and to be with friends and family. When
we return to work after the holidays with plump bellies and fuller faces, we
will sit down to ponder the museum’s future goals as well as our own. We pray that it and we can benefit the
community even more in 2015.
At this time of year it is always
nice to take a moment or two to reflect on the events of the previous
year. It is eye opening to realize all
the things accomplished.
of Cordova book to seniors at Trinity Baptist Church.
and Jane introduce “Cordova” book to community at Cordova Library.
Jim and Don spoke to Bartlett Historical Society at Gotten House.
hosted fifty Descendants of Early Settlers to unveil the 1858 Ledger Book.
staff interviewed on "Let’s Talk It Out" radio with Father Don
Cub Scout group visits museum with leader and parents.
Museum attends Shelby County History Festival at Davies Manor.
and Jane speak to Chucalissa Chapter of DAR at TN Genealogical Society.
starts helping to document Shelby County Cemeteries with John McNary.
Cordova cemeteries for photographs and transcriptions.
Branch (MS) Genealogical Society invited us as guest speakers.
Museum invited to have info table at Berryhill Community Festival.
and Jane honored at Shelby County Historical Awards Dinner.
a structured accessioning (permanent record of items donated) program.
Visitor of the Month program and exhibit.
training program for docents and invited the community to sit in.
contents and look of monthly newsletter.
invited community to join our tour of Shelby County Archives.
Leatherwood visits for community presentation hosted by Cordova Museum.
Cordova Office invited to Cordova history presentation/museum tour.
and Darlene clean the building’s National Register of Historic Places
the Cordova Community Center in July 4th Parade and Fall Craft Fair.
invited to join our field trip to Davies Manor Plantation and Hillwood.
Middle School teachers invited for history lesson/tour of the museum.
joins us touring Mt. Airy – a Cordova home on National Register.
and Volunteers speak at Cordova Library’s 10th Anniversary.
School students visit for history presentation/museum tour.
Arlington Office visits for presentation and unveiling of new exhibit.
Not too shabby,
huh, for a little one room museum. Due to the determination and enthusiasm that
started with one person and then spread with recruitment of helpers, these
things have been accomplished to utilize the small museum in a positive way. This should put to rest the question of “What
can one person do?” What can one person
not do, or at least start rolling in the right direction, if they really want
to? Together we have worked and dreamed
of making a difference in the community, and together we used what little the
museum had to offer to do what we could; when we tried, the community responded
back with love and appreciation.
Did you know
there is no state or local government funding of the museum, nor any other
funding except for the museum’s own self-generated income from its own
fundraising efforts? The bottom of the
page is a way to give us a greatly needed hand.
For that we truly thank you! See below for additional information.
All of us at the
museum wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with
happiness, good health, and love. We do
look forward to seeing you soon and often in 2015.
And I will close
this last newsletter of the year with a request from me. Please remember our troops now and during the
months to come. There are a number of
lonely young Americans found in dark places around the world who can easily
think they are forgotten. I know, for I
was one of them a couple of times earlier in my life.
Until next time!
Jim Wadell - aka