On Thursday, the museum completed a goal four years in the making with new glass display cases in the section of the museum dedicated to local war heroes from World War I on up to the ongoing War on Terror. The displays serve two purposes, Carroll County Historical Society Secretary Shelby Puckett said.
“Since we came here in 2006 we almost immediately realized we needed to cover our open displays for security reasons and for dust, dirt and grime. So it has been our goal to get these displays,” Puckett said. “The displays will remain the same, but they will be encased. Part of the problem we have is things like dog tags from World War I and war medals, these are the things you find that show up on ebay. That is something that has always been a cause for concern.”
The project has been on-again, off-again over the past four years, Puckett said, because of a lack of funds. But now that D&D of North Wilkesboro, N.C. has finished encasing the local war section, she said new items will be on display such as more items from Judge Edward M. Turner III, a bomber pilot in the Vietnam War.
“We are excited,” Puckett said. “Today our goal is coming to fruition after four years.”
The Carroll County Historical Museum is always in need of volunteers. Guides are especially critical and needed during the summer months, when many more visitors and tour groups are coming to the museum, located inside the Historic Carroll County Courthouse, home of the infamous Carroll County Courthouse Tragedy of 1912.
A prime example is a Boy Scout Troop from Greensboro, N.C. that recently visited the museum, which includes an exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts in America. The exhibit features many local Boy Scout pictures and history, as well as Boy Scout badges and other items throughout the past century.
“The Boy Scout Troop from Greensboro had a wonderful weekend in Carroll County. They camped on the New River in Fries, bicycled 37 miles on the New River Trail, got out on Foster Falls and came back and stayed at Blue Cat on the New. They called and said they had some time to kill on Sunday and asked if we would open up the museum,” Puckett said. “When they left here, they timed it so they could go down to the Visitors’ Center to have a picnic lunch down there. I got a call back from the Scout Master and he said it was one of the best outings they had had. He said they really enjoyed coming to Carroll County and they were going to make this an annual thing. A lot of kids said they would have their mom and dad come back. Whether that will happen, I don’t know, but it may if they tell them they had a good time in Carroll County.”
While the new displays were being finished Thursday, a tour group from Rich Acres Christian Church in Martinsville was busy taking in the sights and history of the local museum. Mary Jo Vipperman set the tour up for the church’s senior group. Even though she grew up in Meadows of Dan and has lived in Martinsville since 1963, she’s been coming to Carroll County for years to visit family. Some of her family members have owned the John Carroll House in Hillsville over the years, including her aunt, the late Flora Gardner.
“I can remember as a child coming up and staying with uncles and aunts and it was always such a treat to get out and wander around this area. I work with the senior group at the church and we do a mystery trip in June,” Vipperman said. “I suggested going to Hillsville to see what we could learn, and I think they have enjoyed it.”
At the museum, the group of about 15 seniors hung on every word of Ron Hall, as he told the details of the Carroll County Courthouse Tragedy, a shootout in the courtroom on March 14, 1912 that left five people dead and seven others wounded.
“I had heard about it all my life. I really enjoyed it,” one of the tourists said.
Although the trip to Carroll County was a secret, Vipperman said the mystery was pretty well given away when the group pulled up to the old Carroll County Courthouse. After the tour, she said the group planned to visit Shoney’s for lunch before stopping at the Southwest Virginia Farmers’ Market and finishing with a visit to the J. Sidna Allen home in Fancy Gap.
“The (Carroll County) Chamber of Commerce put me in touch with the Historical Society to get this set up and I thanked them very much for working with us to have a tour and let them see what maybe I am hoping a lot of them have heard about all their life, too,” Vipperman said. “I think they will enjoy it. I really enjoy the Farmers’ Market. It’s a nice farmers’ market and I’ve been stopping there for years. And I can remember as a child, it was a treat for us to come to Hillsville maybe on a Sunday afternoon and eat at the old Street Car Restaurant back in the 50s, which is now the Hillsville Diner, and the old Corner Restaurant, which is now rental place. This just feels like home up here.”
The Carroll County Historical Society is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Even though the museum has hosted several tour groups in June, Puckett welcomes visitors, especially Boy Scout Troops to see the temporary 100th anniversary exhibit.
“We would love to have local boy scouts because this is a temporary exhibit just for the 100th anniversary and it will be coming down, but we are available if anybody would want to bring their Boy Scouts group. We can even open at night by appointment,” Puckett said. “We would be happy to do that and give them a tour of the museum.”