“The idea of having a museum in Gilmer was first promoted by D.T. Loyd (a Gilmer and Upshur County historian) in the 1970,” she said. “Much to his disappointment, he did not receive the support needed to make it a reality.
“I was Chamber Executive Director in 1991 when the Post Office was moving off the square and the building would be sold,” she said. “The idea was pitched again at (a Chamber of Commerce) board meeting.
“We were told that it had been tried before and failed. That constituted a challenge to me,” she said.
She said she then went to work on the City of Gilmer and Upshur County for support in bidding on the Post Office building as a museum site.
She and others met with the Upshur County Historical Commission, and with the help of a professor from Texas A&M University, convinced them that a museum was viable and was a tremendous economic development tool.
The first board of directors was elected at that meeting.
This board decided on the museum’s focus would be the history of Upshur County. The late Mary Lee Baird decided to call it the Historic Upshur Museum so that they could use HUM for an abbreviation.
Ms. Dumas, with the help of several others, drew up Articles of Incorporation and bylaws. The purpose for the nonprofit corporation was stated as:
1. To establish and maintain a museum that will bring about a better understanding and appreciation of Upshur County’s history, culture and natural environment.
2. To preserve the history and heritage of this area for future generation.
3. Provide educational programs.
With the help of the Gilmer Industrial Foundation, Gilmer banks, several industrials, and businessman Jerry Gentry, raised funds to purchase the Post Office building, which is located on the northeast corner of the courthouse square in downtown Gilmer.
Gentry donated a $10,000 matching grant.
The Post Office quoted a price of $85,000 for the building.
Gilmer Savings Bank agreed to make a loan to help purchase the building, but Gary Cooper, who was then president of the bank, suggested they start with an offer of $55,000. The Post Office accepted the offer.
“There are many people in our community who work very hard in the public interest to make Gilmer and Upshur County the best it can be,” Ms. Dumas said. “The board of directors of the Historic Upshur Museum are one of the most dedicated of these groups.
“The community entrusts this group of volunteers with the preservation of our history. The board in turn depends on the public for the financial support to carry out this responsibility.”
She quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “Emerson truthfully said that people carry their country wherever they go. The love of home, kindred and early association is one of the strongest and fondest virtues of our common human nature.”
She introduced Amy Patterson, who reminded them of the Appraisal Fair today at the Yamboree Exhibit Building, off U.S. 271 North.
Mrs. Patterson also reminded them that the museum is putting together an exhibit of vintage (pre-1960) toys and game, and asked people to loan such items.