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Preserving Community History

As I've aged, I've become increasingly aware of the importance of preserving history. Not just national and regional history, as important as they are. But it all begins with preserving one's local and family history.

Too few people seem to be aware of the importance of such preservation. We always seem to have some excuse for not exerting the efforts to do so. As we age, we have our own physical and financial problems to deal with. When we are in middle age, we think we are too busy making our livings and rearing our families. Saddest of all, I think, is young peoples' excuse that they just aren't interested; history is so boring.

But historical preservation is critical to the survival of our society, our communities, our families. To fully know who we are and how we became who we are, we must know our history.

I first became interested in local history when I began wondering about the history of the little town where we do much of our shopping, a little place called Travelers Rest. I attended a few public meetings of the Travelers Rest Historical Society and learned from the presenters about how the town got its name, why part of its larger community became known as the "Dark Corner," and about the Cherokee Indians who hunted there long before white men entered the area.

Soon, the founding president of the Society, Dot Bishop, encouraged me to join the Society. Before long, she convinced me that one of the best ways to learn about the community was to volunteer as a docent at the Travelers Rest History Museum, so I did--and I still serve as a docent. That dear lady was recently awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a civilian in the state of South Carolina, and Dot well deserved it.

In spite of my repeated protests that I am a "foreigner," a transplant to the area from across the mountains in Knoxville, I was asked to serve on the Society's board. Then I was elected a vice president, in which capacity I served for four years. During my tenure, I founded and produced the Society's quarterly newsletter, Preservation, keeping members abreast of the activities of the Society.

I have since had to step away from the Board due to other obligations, but my interest in preservation of local history remains high. That's why I was excited to learn that the community where I grew up and went to school has started its own historical museum.

The Halls Crossroads History Museum sent out its initial offer of membership last week. Its mission statement is "to preserve the history of the community by collecting and displaying documents and artifacts for use by current and future generations." The desired goal is to ensure "that future generations will recall with pride the founding fathers of the community and their vision for the future."

The organization already has a good start in the thousands of photos and various artifacts that were collected by the late Hubert LaRue. With that foundation, the members are well on their way to organizing an outstanding museum. But to get off to a good start and grow the organization will require interested members who are willing to get involved in some way.

I've already joined, sending in my membership dues last week, and I encourage others reared in Halls to do so, too, especially if they still live in the community. My own involvement must of necessity be limited since I live out of state, but I can at least help out through my dues. But my interest is high, and that's what counts. If local residents' interest is high and they are willing to get involved, the museum efforts will be successful.

I wish the Society well in its efforts to find a suitable location for a permanent home for the museum, in its collection of documents and artifacts, and in its educational efforts to preserve and share the history of Halls. And I hope that many others, like myself, will join them in their efforts to preserve local history.

For more information about the Halls Crossroads Historical Museum and the history of the Halls community, visit their website at

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