Bill Herridge has had an interesting role in the development of the Coryell Museum. He remembers the very early years around 1985 in the Graham Building and the humble beginnings.
Mr. Herridge and I had a nice conversation lately about the museum and he remembers when the Graham Building was first purchased for $1 from the Graham family. There was no fleet of volunteers to assign to clean the dusty floors and to convert a lumber yard into a museum. So far it looked exactly like it had when it was a lumber yard. He and his daughter, Jana Herridge Morgan would go every Thursday evening and try to get organized. Bill says, “Mostly, we just felt like we were pushing the dust around. At first folks just drove by and looked in as they passed, but gradually folks started helping and volunteers appeared.
Some of the earliest volunteers that began to turn the Graham Building into a museum were as follows: Clifford Worthy, Bill Herridge, Ray Simpson, Barbara Rosser, Molly Saddler, Essie Leach, Iris Rueter, Yvonne Preston, Anne Jackson, Nancy Koch Russell, Dr. Elsworth Lowrey, and of course, Helen Swift and Evelyn Bohne.
Mrs. Evelyn Bohne remembers “The lumber inside was in such disarray that it looked more like the remains from a tornado than anything else. Dirt and dust were everywhere. The lighting was just lamps brought from home with cords strung across the room.
There were no chairs or tables for the group to plan their strategies, so Dr. Elsworth Lowrey brought a variety of chairs to be used. He also supplied tables, doors and windows and many other items, as needed, from his army surplus building.
About 3 years ago, one of the first times I volunteered at the museum was in the schoolroom. My job was to give the history of the schools in Gatesville. As people came thru they sat down on the church pews and told me the history of Gatesville. I learned a lot that day. One friendly lady from Coryell City came in and sat down and told me Gatesville history. She listened while I gave her an enthusiastic account of how much I enjoyed the museum and was grateful to those who had worked so hard to preserve Gatesville history. Well, it was over a year later when someone else told me it was Mrs. Bohne that I had talked to and who was one of those first volunteers.
On January 30, 1986 the Gatesville Messenger reported that the Coryell Museum was calling for all citizens interested to come to an important meeting for its future development. Bill Herridge, as president of the group, called for the opening of museum memberships with all signing up being charter members. Officers and board members were also to be elected.
In 1985 and 1986 volunteers continued to come forward as members of the community believed there would be a museum opened. They began to donate items. Folks from eleven different communities around Gatesville began to accept donations for the fledgling Coryell Museum. Many donations were received and the museum began to grow.
by Jann Dworsky Property of The Gatesville Messenger 2013