Back in 2018 a group of people met who were interested in preserving the history of Morgan County. A museum was just a gleam in a few eyes at that time. The Morgan County History Partnership formed. We had a history day at the Wilbur schoolhouse, complete with reenactors showcasing a schoolmarm, old hunters, and various people willing to share Morgan County history. We held a few meetings with speakers who shared history. In 2019 a small group started working toward making the museum a reality. Late in 2020 we partnered with the First Christian Church in Martinsville and rented the Disciple House to house the museum. We planned a kick-off banquet to raise funds, but Covid-19 forced us to delay the event.
We have applied for numerous grants to fund the museum and have shared fliers at various events such as Old Settlers, 4th of July Parade, Morgan County Fair, and speaking engagements with other non-profits. We have had success in obtaining sponsors. Once word got out about the museum, we began receiving artifacts. We have exhibits showcasing Martinsville businesses such as Old Hickory and the bucket factory, Albert Merritt, John Wooden, a military exhibit ranging from the Civil War to Desert Storm, schools from around the county, a communications room including WCBK’s first used remote equipment, an exhibit about the many Martinsville sanitariums, a railroad and farm room with numerous old farming tools and Hoosier Homestead wall. The community has been wonderful with their suggestions and help in making the museum a success.
Hours are currently 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Monday and Saturday and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday evening. We welcome groups who would like to make appointments to see the museum. Plans are to hold meetings with historical speakers.
The Community Foundation of Morgan County was integral in assisting our effort, not only in supplying a grant but in helping us advertise our existence in the community and being a repository for our funds.
Our county has not had a “county” museum where someone could visit and find out about the whole county’s history. We had a couple visit from Pennsylvania in June looking for information on their family that had resided here in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Thanks to Tom Wallace, who had donated numerous items to the museum that he had collected from auctions, we had a picture of the family’s home in Jefferson Township, a passport and European itinerary of an aunt, and numerous letters written to family members. The couple spent 1 1/2 hours going through the information and were elated to find facts about their family before going on to Chicago to do further research.
Museum personnel are available to speak at other functions. We love to share our heritage and work in conjunction with the Morgan County Library, Morgan County History & Genealogy Association, and the Morgan County Bicentennial Celebration group. A new project in the works is collecting verbal histories that we can record and share with future generations. Our motto is “Let Us Help You Tell Your Story”.