The Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth touts itself as the largest Civil War museum west of the Mississippi. This makes sense, since it is said that things are always bigger in Texas. A visit to this museum is a dream come true for a historian, military enthusiast, or genealogist.
The museum is made up of four collections. There are the Union and Confederate war artifacts from the Ray Richey military collection, the Texas Confederate Museum collection of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Judy Richey collection of Victorian dresses, and the collection of items that members of the public donate to the museum. There is also a movie theatre and the Magnolia Mercantile gift shop.
Executive Director Cindy Harriman said Ray and Judy Richey are the reason for the museum’s existence.
“Ray Richey created a successful career for himself in the oil and gas industry,” Harriman said. “He began collecting items for his office and that collection grew to include much of what we have in our museum. His collection represents both sides of the war. Judy Richey started traveling with Ray to auctions and she began collecting Victorian dresses, and we are able to display only a fraction of what she actually owns.”
The antebellum-style building that faces Jim Wright Freeway beckons patrons to come inside and explore all 15,500 square feet. The museum was built from the ground up especially for the artifacts inside.
Artifacts include uniforms, artillery, supplies, handbooks, flags, medical equipment, musical instruments, badges and ribbons, Victorian dresses, and cannon. All are actual artifacts used or worn during the time of the Civil War. A movie called “Our Home – Our Rights: Texas in the Civil War” plays every 30 minutes in the theatre.
Harriman has been with the museum since it opened in January 2006. She began as director of communications and education and took over as executive director when the original director retired. She has always been a Civil War history fan and has 17 ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. She has a small, dedicated staff and about 75 volunteers who share her passion.
There are various programs throughout the year, including concerts, book signings, and movies.
“Since the 150th anniversary began we show three or four movies a year about major battles in the war,” Harriman said. “We also participate in lots of living history programs.”
While they are not a research facility, Harriman said they try to steer genealogists toward several resources that might be of help, such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of Union Veterans, the National Archives or other organizations.
The Texas Civil War Museum is located at 760 Jim Wright Freeway North, Fort Worth, Texas 76108, 817-246-2323. Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday and closed major holidays. Email them at email@example.com or visit their Facebook page for information on upcoming events.
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