Twenty-six years ago the Grand Opening of the Coryell Museum and Historical Center, on April 24, 1986, was huge event! There were speeches by Bill Herridge, as President and also Judge Doug Smith and J.R. Saunders. Finally, Coryell Museum and Historical Center was open!
Bill Herridge praised especially Dr. Elworth Lowrey for overseeing the completion of the interior of the museum, a detailed and time consuming job. A dozen other individuals spent many long hours in the cold or heat because they wanted a museum.
A large group of folks attended the museum festivities and among those were Tanner Bates, three years old. He was unfortunately jailed during the museum activities and called on friends to post bail for him. Dr. Bates and wife Ann hoped that their son would not be behind bars for long.
An unusual desk that Mr. Graham had used was displayed that day. For many years in the lumber yard he had a tall, slope front desk that he stood to use. The slanted writing surface was the correct height for a man standing. These could be bought from 1840 to 1917 in mail order catalogs and were bookkeeper’s desks. Mr. Graham’s desk was home made and was wide enough for two of the big ledgers to be out at the same time. It was over 4 feet tall and had dozens of cubby holes above that were used to file paperwork alphabetically. Mr. Graham’s had been used for so many years that the finish was in poor condition. Evelyn Bohne remembers using varnish remover, scrapers and steel wool until it was completely refinished and in excellent condition again. You can see that desk today in the museum in the display room downstairs.
In May of that year the museum was visited by 150 Gatesville students from the 2nd Grade. A group of 4th Graders also came from Copperas Cove. There were 27 students that toured the museum and the Court House. The teacher explained that Gatesville was the county seat for Coryell County. These 4th graders had not realized they had a “county seat” and were fairly surprised to find it.
The museum was open during that first summer several days of the week and but during the fall it was only open on Sundays 2:00-5:00.
Mrs. Swift is remembered as having tremendous enthusiasm for getting the museum going and “pushing” to get things done.
Dr. Ralph Bailey was head of organizing the “Pioneer Doctor” exhibit. His father and Dr. Elworth Lowrey’s father donated their medical equipment. Dr. Bailey asked for donations of any early day doctoring memorabilia for the display. In the last year the museum has allocated a room just for the “Pioneer Doctor” display near the soda fountain. It is filled with hundreds of strange macabre objects, and if you are brave enough you can read their labeled use. There are hemostats for clamping off blood in a vein, and odd huge pliers for pulling teeth. As a last resort, there was even an embalming table for the mortician.