Museum Letter Announcing Donation of Genealogy Society Assets

An invitation to join the Knox Historical Museum

by Charles Reed Mitchell

As readers of this magazine know, the management of the Knox County, Kentucky Genealogical Society have decided to shut down operations and donate their collections, equipment, and publications to the Knox Historical Museum. The acquisition of the holdings of the Genealogical Society, in addition to the large Hermina Brinkmeier collection and numerous smaller individual family genealogy boxes and folders, will form the foundation of what promises to be a strong regional family history center in Barbourville, Kentucky.

The Genealogical Division (or whatever name it eventually bears) will not be open for several weeks. The recent death of beloved Knox Historical Museum President Susan Arthur is expected to slow things down at the museum as well for a time. No genealogical services of any kind will be available at the museum, nor will any of the materials be open to the public, until an opening is announced in the Barbourville Mountain Advocate or The Knox Countian.

As none of the present officers in the Knox Historical Museum has significant skills in genealogy, donation of the collection depended on obtaining qualified assistance. Fortunately members of the Dr. Thomas Walker Chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) agreed to be in charge of the genealogy division, with the assistance of regular museum staff.

D.A.R. members Nancy Hampton and Nadine Smith have examined the museum’s library and storage areas and have agreed to help establish a workable system. Mrs. Hampton has extensive library experience, and Mrs. Smith currently writes the genealogy column for the Barbourville Mountain Advocate. Other D.A.R. members have expressed an interest in the venture as well.

The direction of the genealogy division’s services are necessarily vague at present, but at some time in the future limited assistance on family history questions may be available for a small fee. The former genealogical society’s publications will be sold at the museum and possibly reprinted, if demand continues. The former society’s magazine, Knox County Kinfolk, will go out of publication, but the editor of The Knox Countian has offered to publish a couple of pages of interest to the genealogical division in each issue. However, the museum cannot publish the kind of extensive family lineages that appeared in Kinfolk at this time.

The museum’s storage and archive rooms are currently being reconstructed to house the large collection of genealogical data in secure locked rooms. Eventually the public will be able to examine documents in the museum library, with the stacks open only to museum staff.

The Knox Historical Museum is located on the second floor of the Barbourville,

Kentucky Municipal Building, 196 Daniel Boone Drive, at the comer of Library Street, across the street from the Knox County Board of Education (the old post office building). Messages may be left with the Chamber of Commerce secretary at 606-546-4300.

Plans for an opening date for the genealogy division are not yet fixed, but a Spring 2006 opening is not out of the question.

Those interested in Knox County history are invited to join the Knox Historical Museum. Members receive the award-winning quarterly history magazine, The Knox Countian. Recent issues include well-illustrated articles, such as a military memoir series by Carl J. Helton, military biographies of Clarence Ossie Burch, Clinton Mills, and Jackie J. Mullins, Jr. Richard Davis Golden wrote on the Deckers and Goldens of Knox and Bell counties, and Mary Browning on her years as county nurse. Connie Danner’s “The Storied Life of Edward Fletcher Arthur,” Dr. Leslie Logan’s “Doctors of Knox County,” and “Mr. Fire Department: Bert Churchill” by his daughters were highlights.

Articles have appeared on airplane clubs in Barbourville, Pineville and Jellico during the 1920s, a movie filmed in Knox and Bell counties in the same year, the C.A. West family’s troubles running the Knox County Jail, and long pieces on the history of the Barbourville Post Office and local Presbyterian Churches entertained readers, along with an on-going history of the Barbourville Fire Department. . . .