Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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December 18, 2013

Cherokee County society celebrates 55th year

RUSK — Looking for a photo of the first-or-second-grade classes at Turney School in 1936? Or the Amphitheater at Love's Lookout Park or a historic sawmill that once operated in Cherokee County?

Just visit the Cherokee County Historical Commission office, which is a goldmine of pictorial and other information.

On Dec. 14, the commission – located at 138 W. 5th St. – held an open house in observance of its 55th anniversary of founding.

Visitor Denise Clapp, who hails from San Antonio but regularly visits her family's farm just outside of town, was delighted at the opportunity to peek inside the storefront building.

“I've walked by here many times but have not visited. My husband and I are interested in the history of the county,”

she said.

Initially operating for five years as part of the Texas Survey Commission, in 1958 entity became a county-funded one, charged with preserving the history of Cherokee County, said chairman Elizabeth McCutcheon.

This is done through researching areas where historical markers are erected, collecting historical photographs and preserving oral history through interviews,  said board member Dr. John Ross.

Often, when people contact the office, “they call in with questions about geneology,” he laughed, adding that the commission is a source of information wealth because “we're preserving the history of Cherokee County.”

The local historical commission also publishes books that reflect local history.

Picking up a thick, 705-page tome entitled “Cherokee County History,” which features not only county history but that of individual families, he explained it was published as part of the county's sesquicentennial celebration. A second book is more of a pictorial history.

And since 2010, members have published a calendar filled with historical photographs from county residents who loaned their material to the historical commission to preserve.

“We decided to do the calendar to promote our county history,” Ross said of the $5 calendar, available at many area merchants.

Last year, the 500 calendars printed sold out by March, so “this year, we ordered 750 printed,” McCutcheon laughed.

According to its 2013 annual report, the Cherokee County Historical Commission received a Distinguished Service Award after meeting all the guidelines and filling out the many pages of a required state annual report.

Other projects included helping with Heritage Museum exhibits, photo displays and a presentation during June's Tomato Fest in Jacksonville; they also held workshops on tombstone preservation and met with clubs and organizations, conducted tours of the county and helped organize educational tours for local students.

Thanks to interviews done as part of its oral history program, “we have many CDs and DVDs that can be checked out to hear the stories that have been recorded” by local residents, the report stated.

In addition, the new “Cherokee Trails Map,” which notes historical markers and other locations of interest in the county, is nearly complete, according to the report.

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