'Twas the week before Christmas
at the Fort Bend Museum
We're looking for Santa--
Perhaps you have seen him?
He likes to come shopping
at our gift shop boutique
For we stock Fort Bend items
That are fun and unique.
Take a look at our gift guide
And here's a good reason:
Support Texas history
This holiday season!
By CHRIS GODBOLD
Curator of Collections
People living in mid- to late-Victorian (1870-1901) and Edwardian (1901-1910) Texas enjoyed sending postcards. Folding greeting cards, while available, were not widely sent; early postcards were printed with artwork, an advertisement or left without a design on the front. Photos were not added to postcards until around 1900.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Moore Home! Docents and volunteers have been hard at work this week preparing for the annual Candlelight Tours, which has been a festive holiday favorite since 1977!
This year's theme is "To Grandmother's House We Go: A 1950s-era Moore Family Christmas." The Moore family actually did have grandchildren during the '50s, so the theme is quite spot-on with the home's history. Each room in the house is decorated with mid-century flair...we know you're going to love it!
That's it for the sneak peek...you'll have to come take a tour to see the rest of the house! Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for kids. Join us on Friday from 6-8 p.m. or Saturday from 2-8 p.m. -- plus, if you come Saturday, you can also check out Miracle on Morton Street happening from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. just a couple of blocks over from the Museum!
See you this weekend!
(Questions? Call us at 281-342-6478 or send an email to Rose!)
Part Two: The Long-Smith Cottage
(For part one, click here.)
The Long-Smith Cottage once stood on land owned by Jane Long, the "Mother of Texas." The house was built in 1855 by Long's grandson, James Winston, and was first lived in by Dr. James Gibson and his new wife Caroline. Their sons would later figure prominently in the bloody Jaybird-Woodpecker feud of 1888.
The bedroom of the Long-Smith Cottage features a rope-strung bed with a bedspack (kind of like a feather bed, except this form of mattress would have been stuffed with straw, Spanish moss or cornhusks).
"Legend has it that Museum docents would often find the bed with a deep depression in it, as if someone were sitting on the bed," said Site Manager Shereen Sampson. Though the bed is currently covered by a 1930s-era quilt, it was once covered by Jane Long's original quilt; rumor had it that the ghost of Jane Long was sitting on the bed.
"However," Sampson continued, "I never witnessed any depression on the bed. As I spent a lot of time in the Cottage redecorating the interior, I assumed I would have felt any unusual sensations. But there was nothing."
But all that changed this month. Sampson was chatting with a docent about her disbelief in the legend, but the docent insisted it was true and that she had witnessed the depression first-hand.
A couple of days later, Education Coordinator Jessica Avery walked into the office wide-eyed and asked if she had seen the bed in the Cottage that morning.
"I thought she was joking with me but she seemed a bit nervous and wanted me to come take a look. When I walked into the bedroom, the hairs on my arms stood on end: There was a deep depression on the bed, right where the docent told me they used to see one. I made Jessica swear she wasn't playing a joke on me - it was a perfect depression of a sitting person, and there was no way it was by the 'settling' of the mattress."
So who could it be? Perhaps we can say it isn't Jane Long, who never lived in the house and whose quilt is now kept in storage. Could it be Julia Bassett Smith, Thomas Jefferson Smith or perhaps Deaf Smith? For now, we can only guess...but we certainly wish we knew...
Want to learn more? Join us on Thursday, Oct. 29 and Friday, Oct. 30 for All Hallow's Eve house tours of the 1883 John M. Moore home and Haunted Walking Tours of historic Richmond, which includes a peek inside the Long-Smith Cottage and the 1882 McFarlane House! House tours will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the walking tours will begin at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 for members/$10 non-members for house tours only; Cost for a house tour plus a walking tour is $10 for members/$15 for non-members. Email Pat Wright or call 281-342-6478 to order tickets!
We know for sure that there have been several deaths in the home -- but all were from natural causes. "This was common in the old days," said Site Manager Shereen Sampson. "There were no hospitals in the area, and family members died in their own beds. Once they had passed, the body would be laid out for viewing in the parlor, and then brought to the cemetery. This tradition did not change until well into the 20th century."
Rumors have circulated that one of John Moore's daughters haunts the house after a tragic death during childbirth. However, both of Moore's daughters lived to a ripe old age, so those rumors are definitely not true.
On the other hand, there IS a story that has been verified as true by several reliable sources:
A four-year-old child came to tour the house with her mother. When the Museum docent brought them in to the front entryway, the little girl’s attention was drawn to the front bedroom. She interrupted the docent by telling her mother to look at the man in the rocking chair, as she was pointing to the chair in the corner of the room. Then she said, “Oh, he’s coming to see us!” Her mother and the docent both looked at each other, and then back at the empty room. The docent then shuttled them quickly into another area of the house, and the little girl never mentioned him again. It was the room that John Moore Jr. died in.
It's Friday (hooray!), and if you're looking for a good read to tackle this weekend, here's what a few of our staff members are reading right now. (Can you tell we're all history nerds?)
By CLAIRE ROGERS
In September of last year, the Fort Bend County Museum Association hired a strategic planning firm to help us plan for future growth. Our focus for this project was the Fort Bend Museum in Richmond; as the attendance for school programs and other activities has grown, the facilities
have proven to be inadequate. The basic question: How can we use our current facilities (and possible new buildings) in the most efficient and effective manner to achieve our mission?
The firm we hired, Museum Insights, took our question and expanded it, evaluating all the
possibilities and answering it in ways that we did not expect. And we are thrilled with the results!
One of the first answers was to a question we did not know to ask: What kind of museum is the Fort Bend Museum? It is a community museum, not a destination museum. (The George Ranch Historical Park is more of a destination, reaching out to visitors from all over the world.)
The second question: As a community museum, what is our mission?
The Fort Bend Museum enriches the lives of Fort Bend County’s residents and visitors through exhibits, programs and activities that preserve and celebrate the county’s rich and varied history and culture.
In order to be the best community museum, the Fort Bend Museum will be:
- We will continue to host a wide variety of programs, activities and field trips that educate and entertain children as they learn about the history of our county.
- An inspiring and welcoming place for residents and visitors that celebrates Fort Bend County. We will commit to providing exhibits and programs that celebrate the history of our entire county—not just the county seat of Richmond, but all our people and cultures— from the original Old 300 settlers to the new immigrants and everyone in between.
- A secure repository for the county’s cultural heritage artifacts and archives. We commit to preserve the history and the physical artifacts of that history, and commit to displaying items from that collection for the education and enjoyment of our community.
- A community landmark and gathering place that brings people together for a wide variety of public and private events.
A key element to the strategic plan is the use of space. The Museum Association owns many
historic structures in Richmond, both on the Moore Home property and in Decker Park several blocks away. These structures are not all well suited for the programs and exhibits that we seek to provide.
Museum Insights recommends that we:
1) Centralize the exhibits,
programs, collections and staff;
2) Focus on the facilities needed
for the Museum’s programs for school children and county
3) Minimize the number of buildings the Association owns and must maintain.
Further expansion of the facilities is necessary for our current and future needs. This expansion will be focused on the property surrounding the Museum’s most striking artifact: the Moore Home.
How these plans will develop is yet to be decided. But our staff and our board of directors are excited about the prospects! And we hope you are too!
Download the Museum Insights presentation here.
By CHRIS GODBOLD
Curator of Collections
Baseball is a classic American pastime and is as popular now as it was 125 years ago.
Baseball has been played in Fort Bend County since at least the 1890s. There were teams in Rosenberg and Richmond at that time. Sugar Land also had a semi-pro team.
In 1903, the Rosenberg team played four Waddell brothers: George caught, Ed pitched, Jake played first base, and Bob played a deep second base. A fifth brother, Charlie, didn’t play. The Rosenberg team included S.R Heard, Albert Lee, F. L. Heard, Percy Mulcahy, Stephen McCormick, Charlie Lester, Clem Mulcahy, Richard Mulcahy, and Dick Chew. The teams played in front of 500 people for a purse of $50. Amazingly, the Waddell brothers won the game 43 to 14!
In 2003 and 2004 little league teams from Richmond
advanced to the Little League World Series. The Sugar Land Skeeters independent league baseball team was founded in 2010 and began play in 2012.
Did you know that your FBCMA membership also entitles you to discounts at other museums across the country? If you're traveling this summer, check out these museums that participate in the reciprocal membership discounts:
Canterbury Shaker Village
Hancock Shaker Village
Historic St. Mary’s City
Old Sturbridge Village
Living History Farms
Old Salem Museums and Gardens
Historic New England
Old World Wisconsin
Strawberry Banke Museum
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
Be sure to call ahead to confirm reciprocal membership discounts! Happy traveling!
10 Awesome Things You Didn't Know About RosenbergOur new exhibit about Old Downtown Rosenberg is one week old and obviously, we think Rosenberg is pretty swell. This week, we've been reading all about the "Hub of the Gulf Coast" in the brand-new, hot-off-the-press book "Images of America: Historic Downtown Rosenberg." It's full of cool information we bet you didn't know about Rosenberg. In no particular order:
1. In the early days, the building that is currently Another Time Soda Fountain & Café housed doctors offices, a pharmacy and the casket maker. Alongstanding joke went that "if the doctor and medicine failed, the casket was ready!"
2. Granddaughters of Carrie Nation, the famous radical American temperance advocate, lived in a home just off of Main Street. Nation was known for smashing bars with a hatchet and her reputation trickled down to her granddaughters' lives: "Townspeople thought the ladies were mean as they did not socialize."
3. The first telephone in Rosenberg was installed in the mayor's office.
4. Several famous actors visited Rosenberg as part of the "Stars Across Texas" program. Recognize these names? Shirley Temple, Roy Rogers, Clark Gable, Gene Autry and Jeff Chandler…
5. In 1934, Bonnie and Clyde ate at the Eagle Café. "They sat down, ordered their food, and ate, never looking up. The outlaws had left their car running. No one was hurt, and no one confronted the gangsters. They were killed shortly after that in Louisiana."
6. Rosenberg's unofficial nickname was "Mud City." The streets weren't paved until 1930.
7. The town was named after Henry von Rosenberg, the first president of the Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railroad.
8. In July 1948, Lyndon B. Johnson landed his helicopter on the roof of the Penkert Tire Supply building while campaigning for U.S. Senator. (Johnson became President in 1963.)
9. Felcman's Jewelry Store was robbed several times because thieves figured out how to climb in the building through the skylight.
10. During the Depression, the federal government commissioned local artwork be created and placed in local government buildings. Rosenberg's Post Office had an oil canvas painting depicting a dramatic version of LaSalle's crossing of the Brazos River. It was installed in 1941 but disappeared during the expansion of the building in 1967. Nobody knows what happened to it, but it was sure a nice painting:
All quotations come from the book "Images of America: Historic Downtown Rosenberg." The book is available at our gift shop if you'd like to pick up a copy! FBCMA members receive 10 percent off of all gift shop items.