Museum a treasure trove of Somervell County history
GLEN ROSE — Dennis Moore’s family roots run deep into the Somervell County soil.
His mother’s family — the McCoys — helped construct Barnard’s Mill in 1860, and his father’s family moved to Glen Rose in 1900.
With those ties, Moore has developed a passion for his history as well as that of the city and county, and now he, along with many other members of the Somervell County Historical Society, are champions of the Somervell County Museum in telling the story of the county.
“I love this community and all its unique history,” he said. “I most definitely enjoy sharing that history with all who will listen.”
The museum is located in Glen Rose’s historic downtown Square, and is normally open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and on any given weekend, they will have 30-100 visitors from all over the world.
“I have had a great interest in history since my days in school here in Glen Rose,” he said. “I like collecting lots of different things and get great satisfaction from discovering the history of an antique to learning the origin of how our river (the Paluxy) got its name.”
According to Moore, the museum is a treasure trove of information and artifacts that tell the county’s story. Now, the Somervell County Historical Society (founded in 1964) is making a push for everyone — especially locals — to learn more about history.
“The museum is an important resource for those who have lived here all their lives or have recently moved to the area to learn about the people and events that made Glen Rose the place it is today,” he said.
The museum, which has been located on the Square since 1971, Moore said, has been needing a thorough cleaning and update for some time. They have been rearranging exhibits, taking some out and adding new ones.
“We have been endeavoring to remove the clutter that has developed over time and focus more on some of the key exhibits,” he said.
With Glen Rose being the Dinosaur Capital of Texas, it’s only natural there are exhibits of dinosaur eggs, gastroliths (gizzard stones) and coprolite (dinosaur dung). There are also mammoth bones on exhibit.
It’s also home to one of the state’s largest barbed-wired collections; resting place of the only authentic moonshine still from the prohibition era; a camera exhibit; and currency exhibit as well, just to mention a few.
There is also an exhibit honoring Ensign Jake Clinton West, United States Navy Reserve, for being the first pilot in U.S. Naval Aviation history to make a jet landing on an aircraft carrier.
History buffs can also read about John St. Helens, who claimed to be John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of president Abraham Lincoln. Moore said Helens’ mummified body was an exhibit in carnival tours up until the 1970s. His remains aren’t at the museum, but Moore is interested to know where they are.
Visitors can also learn about George L. Booker and his father John S. Booker, both Confederate veterans, who were present for General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. They both came to Texas in the 1870s.
Also on display is a prosthetic leg made and used by a Civil War veteran from Somervell County.
“We have a lot of people now who have lived in the area less than five years,” he said. “Many of them know very little about the history of this great community. They need to understand what and who caused it to be the place they have chosen to call home. Even those who have been here for decades can learn something new about the area when they visit us.”
There is a Somervell County Museum Facebook page that has valuable information about the area, and Moore said they are working on a website to allow for more exposure locally and internationally.
“We are always looking for new exhibits that have a historical context to our community,” he said. “Just bring it by and we will evaluate if we have a need for it to enhance interest in the museum. Items can either be donated or put on loan to the museum.”
Members of the nonprofit SCHS donate their time at the museum, and currently, financial donations can be made in person on location or by mail to the Somervell County Historical Society, P.O. Box 669, Glen Rose, 76043.
“We look forward to locals and tourists alike stopping in to learn of our area’s unique history,” he said.