The Past lives on in local museum


Ona J. Boyd’s fondness for keeping up with the history of Kemper County can be found in her writings and collection of other written documents where are housed at the Kemper County Historical Museum located at 230 Veterans Street in downtown DeKalb.


“She just had a love for history and all things Kemper County,” said Grace Gibson, a longtime member of the Kemper County Historical Association which operates the museum located in the former S.D. Mercantile Warehouse.


Gibson said everything in the museum touches the community in someway. “It tells about our roots,” she said. “As they say ‘it’s hard to know where you are going if you don’t know where you come from.”


The historical association will be hosting its annual Heritage Day on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Pulled pork plates will be served and tickets can be purchased for $6 each from any member of the association. The doors of the museum will be open and live music will be provided by local artist Terry Cherry.


Among the most impressive of Boyd’s works was something she actually didn’t write herself. The oldest documented book about Kemper County is on display at the museum. “Kemper County Vindicated” was written in 1879 by James D. Lynch. It was reprinted in 1969, but an actual copy is virtually impossible to find. An original copy of the first printing was provided to the museum by Mike Ross.


Boyd discovered that there was a copy in the Meridian Public Library back in the 1950s, but they wouldn’t allow it to leave the premises. So she took her typewriter to the library and typed it out word for word.


After her passing more than 20 years ago family members donated the original copy of her typed version of the book as well as a portable file of things she had written and articles and items she have collected about Kemper County over the years. All of those are able to be viewed by the public.


Also on display at the museum is a table full of books written by Kemper County authors or written about Kemper Countians.


“I just don’t think people realize how many wonderful authors we have who are from Kemper County,” said Larry Gibson.


While the written items at the museum are fascinating, there are many more articles of interest on display, including an old safe and phonograph as well as farm implements and other historic articles. There is also a very good display about former U.S. Sen. John C. Stennis of DeKalb.


There is no admission to visit the museum. Contact information on how to view the museum is posted on door of the warehouse.

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