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Help museum shed light on past

Many area families have deep roots in Denton County and are fond of telling about the roles their ancestors played in major events that helped make our area what it is today.

Now, Denton County officials are inviting the community to share historical information and artifacts, and we urge area residents to take advantage of the unique opportunity.

Officials hope to use the contributions to help rebuild past collections and prepare for a major exhibit that will include topics such as how Denton County was created, the origin of the historic Courthouse on the Square, what life was like during the county’s first 15 years and the county before and during the Civil War.

The exhibit, which will involve all floors of the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum, is tentatively scheduled to open in mid-April.

Precinct 4 County Commissioner Andy Eads said the Denton County Museums Committee will divide up a list of all cities and former communities in the county, identify founding families and locate their descendents to ask for family photographs, historical artifacts and oral histories.

But Eads made it clear that area families don’t need to qualify as “founders” to find a place in the exhibit.

Peggy Riddle, director of the Office of History and Culture, wants to use the exhibit work as a way to replace collections lost during a museum controversy that landed Denton County items in Collin County.

“We’re hoping this will be a way for people to bring forth items important to early founding families,” Riddle said. “Early Denton County history they can loan us for a short period of time — or if they want to donate — we always can take artifacts or documents that relate to the history.”

Many Denton County settlements have faded from view as the years have passed, but area residents could have historical information, photos or other artifacts that would be invaluable in documenting the stories of these communities and their residents.

Time is of the essence, officials said — they want to get as many identifications for photos as possible while family members can still provide them.

“There were lots of communities that came and went over time — the Alton community, the Donald community. … We want to capture all those histories and put them in our courthouse records,” Eads said.

He added that courthouse staff members will be happy to copy paperwork and photographs and return the originals to the contributing families.

When it comes to family furniture and other historical artifacts, Eads said, officials at least want the history documented, even if the items are not donated. That way, if an item eventually ends up in county hands, the artifact history would already be on record.

Riddle told us she is also working on a research project about early German settlers and hopes family members will share their records with the county.

We believe that Denton County historians are on the right track by inviting the public to share information and artifacts, and we encourage area residents to support their efforts.

Your contributions to the upcoming exhibit and other museum projects could play a key role in compiling a more accurate and personal history of our area and its people.