Preserving the Past

By Jeff Whitten

Staff Photos by Jeff Whitten

TOP: Martha Stevenson and Janie Tanner research their family history at the McNairy County Museum in Selmer. They are sisters who were adopted    separately and just recently found each other. LOWER: A dental chair and drill used by Dr. Laney Moore in his Bethel Springs practice from 1867 to 1939 iare on display at the McNairy County Museum in Selmer.


If you are looking for a place to search for your family history or just to learn more about McNairy County’s past, the McNairy County Museum is the place for you. 

The museum has a Civil War exhibit, a Buford Pusser exhibit, and many more jewels illustrating our county’s heritage.

Displays include an antique fire hose, a working Civil War era loom, antique pianos and organs, a dental chair from the 19th century, a wood burning stove and a typewriter more than 100 years old.

It has World War I and World War II exhibits, as well as a flag that was flown over the courthouse on Sept. 14, 2001, just after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 of that year.

The 1920s telephone on exhibit is a far cry from today’s cellphones. No one would confuse the wood stove on display there with today’s central heating units.

The museum is managed by the McNairy County Historical Society, with some support from the County, as well as donations and fundraisers.

According to McNairy County Historical Society President Judy Hammond, two new acquisitions are in the works. 

One is the recordings of Stanton Littlejohn, who lived in Eastview.  He recorded country musicians of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

“We’re really excited about that,” said Hammond.

Another is a horse and buggy from the 1920s.

“We’re going to have exciting events coming up at the museum,” promised Hammond, who says she loves history and the role the museum plays in preserving it. 

“It just gives everybody a view of the past,” she said. “The museum is a way to keep alive the history of our county.”

The museum has been open since 1997, and its building formerly housed the historic Ritz theater, from 1937 until 1961.

As patrons enter the museum, they will see the original ticket window as well as tickets and flyers from movies that were shown in the 1930s.

The museum is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 until 4 p.m., or by appointment.

“We really need volunteers to help staff it,” Hammond said.