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Etowah Heritage Museum

Joshua Shiver, Auburn University
The Etowah Heritage Museum, located in Gadsden, Etowah County, is dedicated to the preservation and commemoration of local and Native American history in Etowah County. Founded in 2014 by the Etowah Historical Society, the museum was conceived by society president Danny Crownover, who now serves as the executive director of the Etowah Heritage Museum. The museum is divided into five distinct sections: the Jerry B. Jones Historical Research Library, Native American/Trail of Tears Memorial, Etowah County/Northeast Alabama Heritage Exhibit, and Heritage Tree Park, as well as a coffee and gift shop area.
The Jerry B. Jones Historical Research Library holds manuscript collections, books, periodicals, maps, newspapers, audiovisual materials, and more than 20,000 photographs on subjects such as southeastern Native Americans, American wars, African American history, the state of Alabama, northeast Alabama, and Etowah County. Its namesake, Jerry B. Jones, was a local historian and Etowah Historical Society board member who provided most of the historical files in the collection. Additionally, it contains digitized copies of many rare maps, books, and files as well as traditional physical copies of land records, county poll tax records, and city of Gadsden court records. It also has a complete physical archive of the Gadsden Times newspaper dating from its founding in 1867.
The Native American exhibit interprets the history of Native Americans in the area from the Paleoindian period through the period of removal, with a particular focus on the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek nations. The museum is noted for possessing the largest pipe collection in the Southeast—the Gilbert Morton Collection. Various other artifacts include projectile points, beads, ornamental stones, grindstones, flintlock pieces, and earthenware. The adjoining Trail of Tears Memorial, located in the museum's inner courtyard, consists of 30 metal panels that detail the history of the Trail of Tears. It is the first such memorial in the state.
The Etowah County/Northeast Alabama Heritage Exhibit tells the story of Etowah County from the earliest settlers in the area, through its establishment after the American Civil War from sections of Cherokee and DeKalb Counties, and up to the succession of industries that would create modern Etowah County. Historical artifacts on display include furniture, period clothing, photographs, and other objects. The National Heritage Tree Park is the museum's newest exhibit. It consists of 24 small trees of various species grown from saplings that have a direct connection with famous figures or significant events in Alabama and U.S. history. Trees include those descended from George Washington's estate at Mt. Vernon, Virginia, Helen Keller's home in Tuscumbia, Colbert County, and other great historical figures including Mark Twain, Alex Haley, Henry David Thoreau, William Faulkner, and Robert E. Lee. Two seeds taken into space by astronaut Charlie Walker have grown into trees; trees grown from these seeds are popularly known as Moon Trees.
In 2017, the Alabama Historical Association honored the museum with its "Alabama Historical Museum Award" for the large amount of history provided to visitors, its historical exhibitions, and for exceptional achievement in spreading Etowah County history. The museum offers a meeting space for outside groups and conducts group tours by appointment. It is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is an admission fee.
Published:  July 12, 2018   |   Last updated:  July 12, 2018