Thursday, June 23, 2016

Richmond-Miles History Museum (Yanceyville, NC)

"Museum Looking for Artifacts"

By Angel Solomon (The Caswell Messenger, 22 June 2016)

Sallie Smith, President of the Caswell County Historical Association (CCHA), extends an invitation to visit the Richmond-Miles History Museum in Yanceyville. Sallie explained that the Museum was founded in the early 1980s by the CCHA and is operated by unpaid volunteers. Initially, the museum was housed in the historic Caswell County Courthouse. Later, using a generous donation from descendants of the Museum's namesakes (Richmond and Miles families), the current building on the Yanceyville Square was purchased and converted into today's Museum. That building, the Graves-Florance-Gatewood House, is itself historic.

Sallie Smith credited Sally Anderson (1915-2002) and husband Zeke Anderson (1914-2005) as being the first volunteer curators at the Museum. The Andersons lived in the Paul A. Haralson House (the "Clerk's House) just southeast of the Courthouse. Not only were they active in Museum matters, but they also helped increase CCHA membership and created the Genealogical Research Room at the Museum. And, for years Sallie Anderson edited the CCHA Newsletter.

Sallie Smith has been a member of the CCHA for many years. Since retiring from the Caswell County Finance Department three years ago (working in the Old Courthouse), she has been an active CCHA board member, now serving as CCHA President.

Sallie says that Paula Seamster (CCHA Treasurer) recruited her for the CCHA board. “I just followed her lead. And now I am very much involved. Which is a good thing, it keeps me busy.  We have a lot of older folks in Caswell, and their stories just need to be told. We have a lot of history in Caswell.”  Caswell County residents can share their stories by donating/lending memorabilia to the museum. “Any artifact or memorabilia that they can loan us or they can gift it to us as a permanent item for the museum. We have the African American room, the sports room, and the Maud Gatewood exhibit upstairs. We need anything from kitchen items to military items, and even things from now; in time they are going to be history. We can rotate items when we get more. We also could use donations of display cabinets and mannequins to show off these historical items.” Family histories always are welcome.

Sallie explained that along with donations or historical items, the museum can also use financial donations. The CCHA runs the museum with funds gained through membership dues, donations, fund raisers, sales at the Museum Gift Shop, online sales, and some county funds.  “It does cost quite a bit to operate the museum, so any moneys we get, we deeply appreciate.” 

Sallie invites all to visit the Museum during the Heritage Festival on Saturday, June 25th. That day, Helen Ledford, author of "Helen Jean Stories," will be on the front porch of the Museum from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. signing copies of her book. According to the publisher, Helen’s book is “a nostalgic look into slower times well remembered, Helen’s prose, poetry, and pictures invite warm contemplation of an era gone by.” 

During the Heritage Festival, the Museum will have a Terrell Chair Display upstairs and a Jar Display on the front lawn.  Mildred Walton will be presenting the Jar Display, and Sallie Smith says, “I’ve never realized there are so many jars to pickle and can jellies and vegetables in”. 

Sallie also invites those interested to volunteer at the Museum. Volunteers on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons would lead Museum tours, explain displays, and help visitors with family research in the Museum’s Genealogical Research Room. Sallie explains, “You don’t need to be a member of the association to volunteer, but we would like for you to be. An individual or a family membership is $25.00. Applications are available at the museum or can be filled out at the CCHA website. Membership dues come due in January. We have over 100 members right now.” To learn more about the CCHA, to join, and to purchase books related to the history of Caswell County and the genealogy of its people, visit the CCHA website at

When asked about what she thinks the future holds for the Museum, Sallie says, “I’d like to see the museum grow. The main thing is more involvement with our citizens with the history in our county.” To learn more about the Museum, call (336) 694-4965 or visit the Museum on the Yanceyville Square (15 Main Street East, Yanceyville, NC).

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