The past lives on in the local museum


By Austin Bishop

Ona J. Boyd’s penchant for following the history of Kemper County is reflected in her writings and collection of other written materials held at the Kemper County Historical Museum located at 230 Veterans Street in downtown DeKalb .

“She just had a love for history and everything about Kemper County,” said Grace Gibson, a longtime member of the Kemper County Historical Association, which manages the museum located in the former SD Mercantile Warehouse.

Gibson said everything about the museum touches the community in one way or another. “It speaks of our roots,” she said. “As they say ‘it’s hard to know where you are going if you don’t know where you are coming from.”

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

Among Boyd’s most impressive works is something she didn’t write herself. The oldest documented book on County Kemper 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 impression was provided to the museum by Mike Ross.

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

After her passing over 20 years ago, family members donated the original copy of her typed version of the book along with a portable file of the things she had written and the articles and objects she had written. has collected over Kemper County over the years. All of these can be viewed by the public.

The museum also displays a table filled with books written by authors from Kemper County or written about Kemper Counties.

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

While the museum’s written items are fascinating, many other interesting items are on display, including an old safe and phonograph as well as agricultural implements and other historical items. There is also a very good display on former US Senator John C. Stennis from DeKalb.

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


About Carlos V. Mitchell

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