Skip to comments.Oil producer opens massive Civil War museum
Posted on 01/25/2006 9:00:39 PM PST by stainlessbanner
FORT WORTH, Texas - After two decades collecting Civil War treasures, Texas oilman Ray Richey finally reached a turning point.
"Either build a third storage building or a museum," said Richey, 50. "Or I could quit collecting, which was not an option."
Richey went with the museum, an expansive building just a short walk from his office on the western outskirts of Fort Worth. But the Texas Civil War Museum, which opened to the public Wednesday, is more than just his huge stockpile.
Richey partnered with the United Daughters of the Confederacy, whose Texas collection was displayed in Austin from 1904 to 1988. The UDC had been seeking a permanent home for their artifacts since being uprooted by renovation of the State Capitol.
"This is just a proud time for us because we've waited so long for it," said Deena Harrison Dark of the UDC.
Richey calls himself a "C-plus" history student who had little interest in the subject until he and his wife Judy came face to face with history during a trip to Washington, where they visited the Smithsonian. He later purchased some muskets at a gun show in Richmond, Va., the start of a collection that has ballooned over 21 years.
The Richeys call their museum the culmination of a dream.
Fascination with the all-American conflict, boosted by its centennial in the 1960s and Ken Burns' PBS television documentary in the 1990s, shows no sign of letting up, historian Steven E. Woodworth said.
"If a private person is going to own a lot of Civil War memorabilia or artifacts, I think this is the right thing to do with it: Put it on display, allow the public to look at it and scholars to look at it," said Woodworth, a Texas Christian University history professor and prolific author whose books include "Jefferson Davis and His Generals" and "Davis and Lee at War."
Richey built the spacious museum on property he owned at a cost of about $2 million. His collection alone, an estimated 65 percent of which is on display, is insured for $3 million.
"The firearms are not my favorite. You have to have them because that's what they used to kill each other," he said. "I like the personal items, the flags. That's what the boys fought for."
Among the most heart-rending is the bloodstained New Testament recovered from Confederate Pvt. Julius T. Sawyer of Georgia, who was killed at the Battle of Olustee, Fla., on Feb. 20, 1864.
Another of Richey's favorites is the Confederate battle flag Pvt. Charles P. Matthews sneaked under his shirt at his unit's surrender and brought home to Texas. A photo next to the framed, tattered banner shows an elderly Matthews in 1910, holding the flag in a ramrod-straight pose.
"This is cool, it really is," said Tom Stuart, 53, of Flower Mound, a Civil War re-enactor and museum volunteer who pointed out possible bullet holes in the worn standard.
The museum covers 15,500 square feet and more than 3,000 artifacts that will rotate on exhibit.
Camp gear, muskets and even locks of hair from Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee can be seen.
The museum has more than 200 colorful Victorian dresses collected by Judy Richey, 36 of which are on display.
The UDC collection contains more than 60 flags and items from the home front, including a piano that Davis bought for a niece.
The Civil War divided families and dramatically reordered the nation, eliminating the long-held institution of slavery at a cost of more than 600,000 American casualties - about 200 times the number killed in the Iraq war.
Like the country in the 1860s, the museum is split: Bright blue uniforms of the Union are encased along the north wall, while the gray or butternut worn by Confederates is aligned along a south wall.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for students 7-12 years of age and free to children 6 and under with an adult. Group rates are available.
On the Net: http://www.texascivilwarmuseum.com
Preserving the Southern Way of Life Since 1861
I pass that museum everyday on the way to my daughter's house to babysit...and I have laughed everyday...about the UN-PC nature of the museum...
I hope it is successful...history is history...and artifacts are important and should be seen.
BTW..as an aside...I bought my granddaughter a CD to listen to in the car whenever we drive from her house to mine...and the CD is put out as the "Mickey Mouse Sing-a-long songs"...for young pre-schoolers.
I was so surprised, when I heard, among "I've been working on the railroad", and "Hokey Pokey"...along comes "Dixie"...
Yeppers...when I heard "Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton"...I about wrecked my car....Disney actually has that song on a new release CD for kiddos!!
How un PC can you get? LOL
I still stand for "Dixie" when it's played.
Thanks for both the pings.
google is your friend....
Shuck has some good link partners - might find something here: Aw, Shucks!
fwiw, both former Governor Doug Wilder & i were told, by "a nice lady of the UDC" 3 years ago, that we should QUIETLY stand at attention & NOT SING "Dixie".
she stated that she had HEARD us BOTH sing & that "she didn't believe she could stand a repeat performance"!!!!
both of us LOL!
Good to see you on the boards today, stand. Have a Dixie day!
In Dixie Land, I'll take my STAND ... General Watie, I thought you were long gone. But here you are, a FReeper. Who'd a thunk it? Is Elias Boudinot here, too?
When I was little, my family often drove to Grand Lake and beyond, to the Ozarks, and at that time, there was a long stretch of highway (Rte66, of course) with very little to see. The only thing to break the monotony was a small highway sign that said "Monkey Island". No further explanation.
My dad told me that's where I came from. I knew it wasn't true, I was from Texas. But for years, we'd look forward to that little sign--and never once did I ever visit Monkey Island, not even as a grown-up visiting friends at Shangri-La or anywhere else in the area.
As it turned out, Brig Gen Stand Watie and some family members were buried there on Monkey Island--on Mockingbird Hill, no less--until moved to Park Hill or somewhere thereabouts. Pardon my rustiness, I'm Chickasaw, not Cherokee. Have you seen his restored Southern Cross?
At any rate, it's good to see a familiar face, lol! Have you ever been to Monkey Island--can you tell me what it looks like, hee hee? How about Locust Grove or Pea Ridge? I've been there, so no need to describe. I guess Monkey Island should be on my "life list" of things to do before I go!
fwiw,i'm just the General's MULE-holder. (the boss was too poor to buy a horse, so he rode a borrowed "good, young red mule", throughout the WBTS.)
and YEP i've visited those places.
NO living man is WORTHY to do more than hold his reins, polish his tack & boots.
as Stand Watie was my ancestor's commanding general,i am PROUD "to do my bit" for his memory.
among our people, remembering the WAR-NAME of a warrior, "who has walked on up the trail of stars", means that he in some measure lives again.
the General will be remembered as long as men honor COURAGE, DEVOTION to duty & HONOR.