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Museum got its start when town turned 100

On Oct. 1, 2011, the sleepy little town of Shirley, Ark., celebrated its 100th birthday. On that same day the Shirley Centennial Museum opened its doors for the first time.

Before this day the Shirley City Council, consisting of Paul Compton, Ray Earnhart, Lisa Hackett, Floyd Haley and Brandy Kimmons, along with Mayor Johnny Sowell and Clerk Missy Worthing, and the Centennial Planning Committee made up of Kimmons, Kasey Nelson and Ginny Stone, appointed Margaret Earnhart and Kay Weaver to co-chair the history committee.

In July, with time so short, minds started turning. Thoughts of a museum went into motion. There was lots of information as well as pictures out there to be retrieved. It was just a matter of collecting and assembling all this history in such little time. Our mission was accomplished. We had several individuals bring in pictures and information.

One of the main objects on display is an old Woodstock typewriter used in the railroad depot by Lum Halbrook, one of the agents of the railroad from 1917 to 1927. Another main attraction is a thesis on the town of Shirley written by Glenn Hackett, as well as other articles he wrote over the years.

We also have an old “friendship” quilt pieced and quilted by several ladies of the community in the 1950s. Also included in some of our binders is a list of war veterans, the establishment of Shirley School, class pictures of Shirley alumni, school yearbooks, history of churches and cemeteries, the Community Church pulpit, ancestry/genealogy of several local families, and Paul Compton’s thesis on Jim Berry, who shot Bill Dark, king of the Jay Hawkers of North Arkansas.

In the winter of 2012 a light bulb went off again in our heads. Doris Sexson was contacted to see if she would be interested in painting a mural on the south side of the museum. She jumped at the idea and planning began. Doris started to work in the spring and completed the mural by our annual June Homecoming 2013. The fantastic mural consists of the old train bridge, old jailhouse, early scenes of the town, old gymnasium and the old schoolhouse before it burned.

The museum re-opened last Saturday, March 1. It is open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays or by appointment by calling Margaret at 723-4748 or 253-2115. The museum is in downtown Shirley.

The museum would like to acknowledge the following whose donation and help made the museum possible: Pam Berry, Shirley Bradford, Dorothy Cates, Paul and Lois Compton, Jim and Ginny Faulkner, Sherry Lewis, Calla Linn, Glenda Kennihan, Jim and Thelma Murray, Betty Shull, Bonita Worthing, Frankie Treece, Laquita Collins Adams, Margie Beckham, Brandy Kimmons, Nanette Berry, Jerel Brown, Billy Burgess, Ray Johnson, Jackie Williams Maxell Evans, Gerald Harper, Sammye Gentry, Inez Privitt, Jane McKinney Privitt, Shirley School District, Jim Wakefield, Wilburn and Kay Weaver, Glenn Hackett family, James A. Burnum family, Watson/Celeste Smith family, Kermit Towery family, Fairfield Bay Museum and the Van Buren County sheriff’s office who painted our building.

If you have pictures, articles or other items you would like to loan or donate to the museum, give us a call.

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