“As we near completion of a complete physical inventory, a large number of items were found in storage that are appropriate for various exhibits, and several new features were added to the Navajo County Historical Society’s Museum,” reported JoLynn Fox, who was appointed by the Navajo County Historical Society Board of Directors to serve as interim director.
“We believe that if we have items worth preserving, they should be incorporated in an exhibit, and while the project is not complete, we have enough different features that the public might be interested in viewing while attending Holbrook’s Wild West Days at the courthouse, July 6 and 7.”
Volunteers have made it possible to achieve as much as has been done, she added.
A major accomplishment has been the inventory all of the research books in the NCHS collection, allowing for the creation of a research center for public use. Appointments to use the center may be made by calling (928) 524-6558 and asking for the historical society.
The society is also encouraging families and individuals to share their collections with the society. Photos and original documents can be scanned for the society archives, then returned to their owners. In addition, arrangements may be made for a private collection to be displayed for three to six months in a secure environment, allowing others to enjoy it.
A large number of school-related objects and materials from the collections of Juanita Bennett, Nancy Fitzgerald, Sheri Whiting, Floyd Henning, Walter Carpenter, Esther Hess and others have been used to create a schoolroom featuring educational tools from several decades.
Displays of business/office items from A.B. Schuster’s, Charlie Lisitzky, Floyd Henning and others have been established, as well as a display relating to the practice of law in the early 1900s.
The museum’s pioneer bedroom now also features a selection of hats from the Lucy Thompson collection, and a dresser made by J.C. Owens, one of the first settlers in Woodruff.
Milly’s collection has been improved, and several other original collections/displays have been subtly upgraded or expanded.
Other new exhibits feature Cholla Power Plant, Holbrook’s oil fields of the early 1900s, wind turbines, potash, the hanging of George Smiley, the Blevins shootout, pottery and Route 66.
While some of the new features are not yet completed, there is enough done for the public to appreciate what the society’s mission is.
Fox emphasized that none of these projects would be possible without the support of the public, the City of Holbrook, Navajo County, society members, staff members and a solid team of volunteers, including Sheri and Buddy Dupee, Vic Bork, Mary Bragg, Janet Fernandes, Pam and Fred Bruce, Holbrook SDA Indian School students, Darlene Brinkerhoff, the Northern Arizona University Archeology Department, Michele, Scott and Jacob Baker, Nicole Young, Mary Ortega, Jennifer Ortega, Mary Barker, Melissa Prather, Randy Stanley, Paul DoBell, Marlin Gillespie, Matthew and Chris Barger, Jonathan Sample, John Hager and Zella Webb.
“More important is that we remember that our job is never done, as collections, photos and documents all have to be added to and maintained in order to preserve our history for future generations,” she added.
“Holbrook has a great asset in its museum, and from the feedback that visitors offer, the community is being remembered as a place with fantastic history and collections that can be seen in a really historic courthouse that provides a perfect setting for the artifacts,” Fox noted.
Yearly visitations to the historic courthouse and museum range from 25,000 people in years of better national economy to 15,000 in 2010 and 11,000 in 2011. To date in 2012, the monthly comparisons are well above those of recent years. Visitors represent all 50 states, a large count from Arizona, and from many countries and foreign regions.