The Sumner County Museum began in the 1970s with the vision of John Garrott, a local business man who had a love and knowledge of the history of Sumner County.

Garrott was a collector and had hundreds of items in his possession that prompted the idea of turning this passion into something the community and visitors could enjoy. At that same time, Robert Ramsey sold his business and wanted to give some money for establishment of a museum. He also had some items to donate. Together, they had a plan.

For the first few years, the Museum was housed in Trousdale Place on Main Street. Six ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who manage Trousdale Place, agreed to let Garrott and Ramsey build on the back of the property to house the collected artifacts–this became what is the current location of the Sumner County Museum.

While the space was being built, Trousdale Place acted as a temporary storage location in the upstairs rooms; in return, the Museum team helped with maintenance of the house, mowed the yard, put walls upstairs, installed new windows, and even reinforced the foundation on the northeast corner. In addition, for safety purposes, the front porch was removed, which had been added to the house in 1879; a small uncovered  porch was installed to replace what had been removed. The Museum spent more than $10,000 in getting the house repaired and renovated.

After five years, in May 1975, the Museum became incorporated officially as the Sumner County Museum, Inc. with 125 signatures endorsing the incorporation.

Through those beginning years, incorporation meetings were held by the temporary Executive Committee and included notables such as Dr. Hal Ramer, Walter Durham, Marvin Farris, Hugh Love, along with Garrott and Ramsey. At the first of these meetings finance, property and membership committees were formed while Durham served as the publicity chairman. Garrott and Ramsey were responsible for writing the by-laws.

The first annual meeting of the Sumner County Museum Association was held on Sunday, June 26, 1977, at 2 p.m. at Trousdale Place. This meeting was chaired by then consultant and curator David Lassiter. The by-laws were read and corrected; they were unanimously accepted. There was also a unanimous vote to elect the first Executive Board: Ramsey, Durham, Love, Garrott, Mary Zelle, Betty Malone, and Glen Hackett. The officers were elected as follows: Garrott, President; Love, Secretary; Ramsey, Treasurer. A new office of Vice President was created; Carey Rutledge was elected to fill this position.

When the Museum was housed in the Trousdale Place the admission was free. In 1979 it opened on June 6, Wednesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. According to the records Danny Tomlin was in charge.

In July 1979, the building fund was started with Marvin Farris at the helm and by Sept. 27, the fund had reached $43,000. The goal was $100,000 which was reached in 1980. The building resembles a carriage house and is in keeping with the historic representation.

The Museum has had several directors/curators throughout the years: Lassiter, Jane Shepard, Danny Tomlin, Troy Hawks, Donna Smith, Allen Haynes, Juanita Frazor, with the current director being Ryan Baker.

Over the years, countless people have donated or loaned items to the Museum. There is a large accumulation of items, some of which are unique to the area. These include: the first pumper fire engine of Gallatin; a workable tinsmith shop; a blacksmith shop; a music exhibit which is being enlarged with new items; the military area of War Between the States, WWI, WWII and Vietnam; and many more.

There have been many projects, fundraisers and events at the Museum or for the Museum. Some of these were Quilting Bees; Music on the Lawn with country and bluegrass; craft and art demonstrations; the Golden Fleece Festival; yard sales and auctions; concerts by Ronnie McDowell, Smokey and the Impossibles; and many more.

Before restrictions due to Covid, the Museum had a travel trunk project going out to Sumner County schools for to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. As a result of this hands-on presentation of what a child’s life was about in the 1700-1800s, there have been several class tour at the Museum.

In 1997, Barbara Parker and Donna Smith started the Candlelight Cemetery Tour held on the first Saturday of October each year in the Gallatin City Cemetery. This has been very successful throughout the years. There are about 10 presentations each year depicting interesting tidbits about people who are buried there. It is an educational and historical experience for young and old.

Some of the workers and docents in the past and at present were and are:

John Allen, Tracy Allen, Clay Scott, Tammy Gordon, Yvonne Bragg, Yvonne McCrary, Janice Black, Valerie Scott, Frances Rankin, Dorothy Fitts, Jackie Fitts, Ann Seminter, Lois Thompson, Ida McNeil, Thomas Varenchick, Billy Green, James Frierson, Elizabeth Hunter, Dorothy Boozer, Octavene Conquest, Anna Dismukes, Kathy Belote, Jere Belote, Lullia Thompson, and others who are unnamed.

Today, the Museum consists of nearly 10,000 square feet of exhibit space. Today’s exhibits include everything from prehistoric fossils found in the area to modern day vehicles. There are sections on Native American history, blacksmithing, gunsmithing, war, transportation, farming, homestead life, and more.

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