Over and over, we hear visitors say things like “I never knew all of this was here.” or “I can’t believe I didn’t come sooner.” The Union County Heritage Museum has an extensive collection of exhibits that walk you through the history of our fine communities. Below is a list of just some of what you can find.
Rocks and Fossils tell a story
Once under a vast prehistoric sea, Union County now has wonderful fossil examples found in the area. Visit the permanent exhibit to see the only horned dinosaur tooth of its kind found in North America unearthed in a creek near New Albany. View the large fossilized beautiful iridescent ammonites found in nearby late cretaceous deposits. See the skull of a saber tooth cat, a dire wolf and short face bear and the tusk and bones of the mastodon found in Union County and the weapon that helped bring about its extinction.
Smithsonian Objects from Ingomar Mounds
Objects on loan from the Smithsonian Institution who sent explorers to the Ingomar Mound Site in the mid-1880s, are part of the exhibit about the oldest known man made site in Union County. The Middle Woodland stone objects reflect a culture totally dependent on hunting and gathering with evidence of the beginnings of agriculture. The mound site is located approximately 6 miles south of New Albany is also an extension of this exhibit.
Stone Tools from the Past
See the stone tools from Union County’s past going back approximately 10,000 years. Paleo, Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian points bring the area into the Historic Period as the stories of when Hernando DeSoto sweeps through the area, crossing the Tallahatchie River near New Albany bringing with him herds of pigs – the first ones in America and the story of the beginning of BBQ.
How settlers used native woods and how the timber industry eventually brought about the furniture industry in the area is told through image, objects and tools of the trade. The virgin timber can be seen in images of more than 40 people standing on the stump of a tree which was cut and sent to the Worlds Fair of 1904.
Travel back in time to the era of the railroad when the caboose was an important component of all trains. Explore the vintage caboose and learn more about the history of transportation and railroading in New Albany and Union County. This Burlington Northern Santa Fe Caboose sits adjacent to the BNSF tracks that run through New Albany. Visit and learn the story of the two railroad companies that raced to New Albany in the 1880s.
The Sporting Life
Expected to open in 2022, this exhibit tells the many stories of sports in Union County. Professional basketball, baseball and football players, big game hunters, dog trainers and more are part of this big story. Look for it!
Twentieth Century Conflicts
This exhibit tells the stories of Union Countians as they traveled throughout the world in the fight for freedom. Learn the story about the soldier who helped discover and liberate the first concentration camp to the moment his picked up a camera there and recorded this unbelievable devastation. Discover more about the many men and women who left home and family to travel the world in sacrifice and courage for freedom.
The Craft of Furniture
Morris Futoriancame to Union County to plant the seed for his furniture building industry in the late 1940s. What grew from this seed – this one factory who pioneered the assembly line method in furniture manufacturing, was an industry that occupied an entire region of north Mississippi Come hear the story, see the objects and art associated with this remarkable story.
Small community stores dotted the countryside of Union County serving a post offices, gathering places, and a type of rural community center for decades. These stores closed about 1970 when big box stores took a lot of the community’s business. Varner’s Store in the Frenchman’s Bend area of the museum not only depicts a fictional Faulkner location in his ‘postage stamp of native soil, but also a part of Union County’s past.
The Crossing on the Green
On the campus of the museum is the railroad park The Crossing on the Green. A railroad observation deck created from the old overpass of the railroad once located on main street gives plenty of room for picnicking and watching the trains pass by. Located within the park is the once vibrant Tackett’s BBQ joint that is being brought back to life. Bring a picnic and the kids and come watch the trains. Four of the sculptures on the campus can be seen at this location.
The Virgin Timber exhibit
An exploration of how the people used timber of the Tallahatchie bottom in their daily lives and focuses on its later use in industry.
From Housecalls to Hospitals
Located in a 1910-30s rural Mississippi doctor’s office, the exhibit House Calls to Hospitals tells the story of rural medicine in the region from the African American midwives to the man who formulated his own medicines and cures, Dr. Thomas Jefferson Pennebaker. The story of the development of the Union County Hospital, now part of a corporate entity Baptist Hospital –Union County is still unfolding…
The museum’s collection of literature includes another successful Union County writer who was born Loysé Youth Deal in Pontotoc, Mississippi. As part of a sharecropper family during The Great Depression, Deal attended Macedonia Consolidated High School in Union County, from which many of his characters are modeled. His sharecropper life in a community known as Bugscuffle is recognizable to many. After leaving Union County he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and fought forest fires in the Pacific Northwest. Before he began writing, his checkered career included work on a showboat, hauling sawdust for a lumber mill, harvesting wheat, a position as auditor for the United States Department of Labor, a telephone solicitor, copywriter, and an anti-aircraft fire control instructor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
It was not until 1956 that Deal decided to become a full-time writer. Among the pseudonyms he used were Loyse Deal, Lee Borden, Leigh Borden, and Michael Sunga.
A prolific writer, Deal penned twenty-one novels and more than one hundred short stories, many of which appeared in McCall’s, Collier’s, Saturday Review, and Good Housekeeping. His work has been translated into twenty different languages. A major theme in his canon is man’s mystical attachment to the earth and his quest for land, inspired by his family’s loss of their property during the Great Depression. The majority of his work is set in the small hamlets of the Deep South. His novel The Insolent Breed served as the basis for the Broadway musical A Joyful Noise. His novel Dunbar’s Cove was the basis for the plot of the film Wild River, starring Lee
Remick and Montgomery Clift. From 1970 Deal also published, under the name “Anonymous”, a series of erotic novels with pronoun titles such as Her and Him.
The Museum Bookstore and Gift Shop
Featuring handmade items, local artists and the unique, this shop is small but interesting. You can order from this website by using the email on our contact page.
Enjoy a memorable and relaxing stay at The Inn on the corner of Cleveland and Jefferson Streets in New Albany, MS. The birth site of author, William Faulkner now a short stay inn, invites you into the Cultural and Historical District of New Albany’s historic north side. Your overnight stay in one of the four comfortable rooms will be a relaxing respite from the busy day to day routine. The Inn has two bedrooms downstairs and two upstairs with a full bath on the hall on each floor, common area with den, dining room, kitchen, and laundry room available to our guests. Relax in the study with a book by a Mississippi author or sip a glass of wine as you put together a puzzle. Out back is our patio with plenty of seating around the fire pit. Take a stroll through the Crossing on the Green Park and Train Observation Deck before having a tour of the William Faulkner Literary Garden and Union County Heritage Museum on the property. New Albany’s downtown area is within walking distance and has a variety of great dining, fun shops and the Tanglefoot Trail walking and bicycle track. Come see us at The Inn and enjoy all that New Albany, MS has to offer for you, your family or a corporate event. Call the museum at 662-538-0014 of the Innkeeper at 601-415-7283
The Society’s collection includes a wide variety of objects, photographs, archives and books.
A large collection of glass negatives, daguerreotypes from the late 1800s, the early 20th century Hezekiah Thornton Collection and images and prints and negatives of the Sara Best Long Collection as well as midcentury images and prints from the New Albany Gazette newspaper collection. Many of the prints are digitized for access.
Archives include the popular bound copies of the New Albany Gazette from 1937 thought 1980. The hard copies show the interesting life of New Albany from the first rough draft of history – the newspaper.
William Faulkner Collection contains more than 2000 books relative to the Nobel Prize recipient’s life. Of the two Williams – Shakespeare and Faulkner, more literary criticism has been written about Faulkner’s work. The William Faulkner Library is a reference library open to the public.
Almost 4,000 objects are part of the society’s collection. Many are on exhibit helping tell the stories of our land, our resources and our people. Not all are on exhibit at any one time. Exhibits are developed through the use and interpretation of the objects with stories.
The Land, The Resources, The People – A Timeline of Union County
This is a permanent interpretive exhibit at the Museum. Sixty-five million year old fossils start the timeline in the Late Cretaceous Period in what became Union County. Moving through time and the exhibit, visitors can see remains of the mega fauna of the Pleistocene Period such as mastodon, wooly mammoth, saber tooth tiger and short-faced bear.
The timeline continues with the story ofthe Ingomar Mound Complex, which includes one of the largest platform mounds of the Middle Woodland Period in the southeastern United States. Archaeologists from The Smithsonian Institute excavated it in the late 1800s. Objects from this Smithsonian excavation and later excavations are on exhibit with interpretive maps and photos.
The coming of the Historic Period was brought by Hernando de Soto. His encounter with the Chickasaw Indians and subsequent battle is recorded in an exhibit. Also learn about the wild pig and the Chickasaw’s contribution to history of barbeque!
Chickasaw Indians sign the Treaty of Pontotoc that ceded six million acres to the US Government and herald an end to their occupation of “the homeland” and this exhibit interprets the Chickasaw removal to Oklahoma. The influx of the European culture, the settlement of New Albany and the Growth of Agriculture along the Tallahatchie River can be viewed through objects, photos and interpretive text.
The Civil War brought the burning of New Albany as it was involved in the Vicksburg Campaign. Life on the Home Front is detailed in objects and stories. Letters, objects and memories relate this difficult time.
Union County was formed in 1870 as a Reconstruction County. With this exhibit history shifts gears and the Great Train Track Race to New Albany by Col. W.C. Falkner brought prosperity. William Falkner was born on Jefferson Street in 1897 (and later puts the “u” in his name). Faulkner’s journey From New Albany to Yoknapatawpha is detailed in the exhibit, as well as his writing. A slide show presentation shows the many facets of this complicated man as well as his use of the culture of the area. Heritage of the Hunt introduces the viewer to the culture of hunting and fishing in this area and serves as a segue into the story of The Playboy Hunter- Paul Rainey who made a profound impact in the business and social climate of Union and Tippah Counties.
Multi-Millionaire Paul Rainey chose to live and hunt in the Union County area. His home, Tippah Lodge, was visited by many of the rich and famous in the early 20th century. He owned Tippah Kennels where he had dogs trained to hunt lions in Africa. He lived in lavishly and died rather mysteriously. He left a legacy of objects and stories.