The Mitchell Collection of several thousand spurs has been said to be the largest spur collection in the world. Lloyd Mitchell (1907-1991), known as "Coach", as he was head coach for the football, basketball, track, tennis and baseball teams at Gatesville High School from 1944-1955, amassed his spur, western memorabilia and sports collections over a period of 77 years. After leaving coaching, Mitchell taught history, civics and government full time. His love of history became evident to his students and others who knew him.
During summers off from his Baylor University college days, Mitchell worked on ranches, rode broncs and worked as a forest ranger in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming. It was in these early years that he became a serious spur collector although he had owned his first pair of spurs at age 7 years. He told his son-in-law that he had found a single spur on a ranch in Wyoming and began to look for the other matching spur to make a pair. His search continued. His wife, Madge, his five children, many friends, athletes, students and peers brought spurs and other collectibles from around the world to his expanding collection. He was indeed a trader. On Lloyd Mitchell's death his family chose to donate the world class collection to Coryell Museum and Historical Center in Gatesville. Coach Mitchell enjoyed collecting and trading, but it was a greater joy for him to share his love and knowledge of history with others.
Spurs used during the 13th century through the 20th century make up this collection. A greater number can be dated from the 1800s through the early 1900s and were made by spur makers: Bayers, Bianchi, Bischoff, Boone, Buermann, Crockett, Fleming, Garcia, Kelly, McChesney, Ricardo, and Shipley.
Numerous "gal-leg" spurs are exhibited. These were a favorite of Coach Mitchell. J.R. McChesney, a blacksmith in Oklahoma and Texas, has been credited with introducing the "gal-leg" shank after listening to cowboys' stories about their ladies. McChesney made his first pair of spurs in 1887 from two teeth of an old piece of farm harrow. He split each tooth partway, hammered each to fit boot heels, cut a part off the shank, hammered it out and filed rowel spokes.
Among museum exhibits are: mens and ladies boots with spurs; Spanish, French, Moroccan, Filipino, German, South American, Russian Czar, English, Mexican and Italian spurs. The museum also has Pancho Villa's spurs, military spurs, rodeo spurs, novelty spurs, spurs with historical significance, Rex Bell's spurs and Jacquelyn Kennedy's riding spurs.
Western, western art, sports and other memorabilia from the Mitchell Collection are exhibited throughout our museum. We welcome our visitors to spend time in our museum and gift shop and to return often with friends.