Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By: Trevor Anderson
Over the past 25 years, Sue Jones of the Crawford County Historical Society has seen many people come through the society’s museum, and has seen its collection grow.
Jones, a museum board member, does all the research on every artifact added to the museum’s collection. All the artifacts in the museum have some connection to Robinson or Crawford County. If people are looking to see pictures of where their ancestors went to school or where they lived, her job is to find them.
But the museum has not always been a museum. It was opened in 1938 as a clinic by the Schmidt family, 30 years before Robinson’s first real hospital. The family even lived in the clinic’s lobby. The clinic was in operation until the 1980s; about 20 years later, the building was bought by Lincoln Trail College Foundation, Jones said. She said the museum had always existed, but it never had a good-sized building for its artifacts. Before its move to the Schmidt Clinic building, the museum was housed on the LTC campus.
“They sold us the building for 10 bucks,” Jones said .
Once the building became the new home of the museum, it needed some renovations, including a new roof, new doors and electrical work. All the renovations needed have been completed, and now Jones and the rest of the museum volunteers are working to make the basement of the museum more wheelchair-accessible.
Once the renovations were finished, the museum started attracting people from all over.
Jones said the museum does not really have a single most-popular attraction, but if it did it would have to be the room with artifacts of local aviation history.
“The popular attractions really vary here,” Jones said. “A lot of people like the Rousch brothers display of the engine that was used in one of their planes.”
Some of Jones’ favorite attractions in the museum are the military room and the Cynthia Ann Parker story. Parker and her family lived in Robinson before moving to Texas where she was kidnapped by Comanche Indians. Parker would soon become the wife of an Indian and give birth to Comanche great, Quanah Parker.
But most of all, Jones loves being able to tell others about where their families lived and what their lives were like.
“People love seeing their ancestors’ burial grounds and to see what house they lived in,” Jones said.
In Robinson, if someone is looking for some sort of family history the place to go is the museum.
“A man once told me he had traveled the world and he has never had a better vacation then having me take him to his ancestors,” Jones said.
She said the museum continues to get donations of artifacts from people who have owned them for years. Jones is still inspired by the history of Crawford County and loves to tell people about their families’ history.
Jones says people looking for information about their town can always come to the museum.
“We have your memories here,” she said.