The Sumner County Museum began in the 1970’s with the vision of John Garrott, a local business man who also has the love and knowledge of history of the county.
In the early 1970’s Robert Ramsey sold his business and wanted to give some money for establishment of a Museum. He also had some items to donate.
At first the Museum was housed in the Trousdale Place. About six ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy agreed to let John Garrott and Bob Ramsey build the building on the back of the Trousdale Place property and to house the artifacts in the Trousdale house until the building was ready to be occupied. The artifacts were placed on tables in the upstairs room. The arrangement was for the Museum to help with maintenance of the house, mowing the yard, putting walls upstairs, putting in all new windows, reinforcing the foundation on the northeast corner. In addition, the front porch was removed, which porch was added to the house in 1879. A small uncovered porch replaced the larger one. The Museum spent more than $10,000 in getting the house repaired and renovated.
In May of 1975 it was incorporated as the Sumner County Museum, Inc. with 125 signatures endorsing it.
After the incorporation meetings were held by the temporary Executive Committee with notables such as Dr. Hal Ramer, Walter Durham, Marvin Farris, Hugh Love, James Robert Ramsey, and John Garrott. At the first of these meetings finance, property and membership committees were formed with Mr. Durham being publicity chairman. Mr. Garrott and Mr. Ramsey were to write the by-laws.
The first annual meeting of the Sumner County Museum Association was held on Sunday, June 26, 1977, 2 p.m. at the Trousdale Place. It was chaired and addressed by the Museum’s consultant and curator, Mr. 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 composed of Robert Ramsey, Walter Durham, Hugh Love, John Garrott, Mary Zelle, Betty Malone, Glen Hackett and James Robert Ramsey. The officers were elected as follows: John Garrott, President; Hugh Love, Secretary; and James Robert Ramsey, Treasurer. A new office of Vice President was created and 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 September 27 the fund had reached $43,000, by November it reached $45,000. The goal was $100,000 and by 1980 it was reached. The building resembles a carriage house and is in keeping with the historic place.
The Museum has had several directors/curators throughout the years: David Lassiter, Jane Shepard, Danny Tomlin, Troy Hawks, Donna Smith, Allen Haynes, Juanita Frazor.
Over the years many 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 presently being enlarged with new items, the military area of War Between the States, WWI, WWII and Vietnam, and many, many more.
There have been many projects, fundraisers or events at the Museum or for the Museum. Some of these were quilting bees, music on the law with country and bluegrass, craft and art demonstrations, golden fleece festival, yard sale and auction, concerts by Ronnie McDowell, Smokey and the Impossibles, and many more.
In recent years the Museum had the travel trunk project going out into the Sumner County school system to 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. As a result of this hands-on presentaton of what a child’s life was about in the 1700-1800’s there have been several classes from the schools coming to the Museum for guided tours.
In 1997 Barbara Parker and Donna Smith started the Gallatin 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 ten presentations each year depicting interesting tidbits about persons’ lives that are buried there. It is an educational and historical experience for the young and old.
Unfortunately the funds have been reduced in years past to the point that the Museum has had directors at times, but not all the time. Presently there is no salaried director because of funding. Hope is there to enable the Museum to reach out into other areas and communities in the county.
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.
The Museum continues throughout the years with very little money, but with a few volunteers who love history and want to see it preserved.