Keepers of the past
Faulkner County is rich in history. To preserve and pass along that history to future generations is one of the main missions of the Faulkner County Museum, located on the grounds of the courthouse.
The railroad has played a significant role in the development of the county. John McFadden of the Central Model Railroad Club will be the guest speaker at the December Second Sunday lecture at the museum, set for 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14. His topic will be "Railroad History in Faulkner County." He will also present a small train display for the audience to view.
The museum depends heavily upon private donations and just recently received several new items that Lynita Langley-Ware, director, wants the public to know about.
The museum received a large steel safe that belonged to the Faulkner County Bank. The safe was donated by Lucy Sogandares of Dallas, who is a granddaughter of J. E. Little. Little was on the board of directors at the bank, which closed in 1930.
Funeral home records
A second donation received recently at the museum includes records from the Doolin Funeral Home from the year 1929 and the years 1934-1968. These records were donated by Sue Gates of Conway and inventoried by Russell Baker of the Arkansas History Commission.
According to Langley-Ware, the Doolin Funeral Home was founded by T.T. "Trust Turner" Doolin and began business in January 1929. Over the years it was located at a number of sites, the last being the Erbacker Home at 14200 Caldwell St. It remained there for approximately the last 25 years of its existence.
Doolin was associated with his stepfather, H. A. Britt, in a funeral home business in Morriltion. He moved to Conway in 1928. During his professional career, Doolin was twice elected president of the Arkansas Funeral Home Directors Association. After his death on Jan. 10, 1966, his widow, Doris Egan Doolin, continued the business until her death.
After several additional years of operation, the business was purchased by McNutt Funeral Home, also of Conway. It closed its doors in January 1969. Langley-Ware said the Doolins had no children and they are buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Conway.
She explained that the Doolin Funeral Home collection contains approximately 3,500 double-sided funeral registry sheets. Each sheet contains the name of the deceased, the amount of funeral expenses on the front side and other information, including birth, death and marriage information on the opposite side. The place of funeral, name of clergyman and place of burial are usually included.
"This is really a great resource for people in the county," Langley-Ware noted.
A third newly acquired collection consists of negatives and proofs from Sam Fausett's Photography Studio in Conway, donated by Mark Benton of Conway.
Benton said he bought the collection from Bobby Scroggins of Conway back in the 1970s and Scroggins had bought the collection from the Fausett family.
This collection consists of approximately 225 wooden boxes filled with negatives, including personal portraits and school classroom photos.
"This is a huge collection," Langley-Ware said. "We could have anywhere between 22,000 and 400,000 images. We are so anxious to get it catalogued so that it can be accessed by the public."
She added that the museum would have to get some sort of grant to be able to work on the project. "We also need volunteers to help with this project," she said.
Langley-Ware said Fausett was "the only game in town" for many years, from the 1920s to the 1970s. "He photographed everyone in town," she said laughing, adding that she has found negatives of many well-known families in the county.
Benton said the collection had been moved from his home to his father's home and back again, and it "became time to do something about it. I debated about what to do with it, and thought about either the University of Central Arkansas (archives) or the museum, and decided it needed to go to the museum," he explained.
"This is a fantastic collection," Langley-Ware said. "We are lucky to have received it."
The museum received two boxes of clothing from the late 1800s donated by Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Coker of Mayflower. Langley-Ware said the clothing, which includes pieces made with delicate lace and handwork, was found in an attic in garbage bags.
"These are some great turn-of-the-century garments," she said.
In addition to receiving these several collections during the last few months, the museum is also undergoing some renovation.
"We have been working to renovate the second floor of the museum," Langley-Ware said. "With generous donations of insulation from Robert Massey of Suspended Systems, a ceiling suspension system from Bob Lasley of Lasley Acoustics, electrical work from Bob Bailey of Bailey Electric and ceiling tiles from Rock City Supply, we were able to install a drop ceiling and add insulation. John Freyaldenhoven of Freyaldenhoven Heating and Air worked with us to get the best possible deal on a heating and air unit, and A.J. Hambuchen, a member of the Faulkner County Museum Commission, coordinated all of the work and got the donations.
"Volunteers from the local model railroad club helped with a work day at the museum," she continued. "They helped with cleaning the upstairs and will be helping with painting and installing exhibits focusing on railroad history in Faulkner County."
"The railroad has played an important part in the development of Faulkner County," Langley-Ware continued. "We are working on enlarging our existing railroad exhibit and installing new exhibits on the railroad." This exhibit will be placed on the second floor of the museum.
"We are currently looking for artifacts and photographs of the railroad and related activities in Faulkner County," she said. "If someone has artifacts to share, please contact us at the museum."
For more information on the museum, or to volunteer your time, call Langley-Ware at 329-5918.
(Staff writer Carol Rolf may be reached at 505-1257 or e-mail email@example.com.)