Museum

A near-shrine to "Smokey" Joe Williams sits at the front of the Seguin Guadalupe Heritage Museum as part of the museum's Black History Month collection honoring African American Achievements on Thursday, February 4, 2021, in Seguin.

Black and white and color photos of Black people with words and glowing descriptions take up a sizable portion of the room at the front of the Seguin-Guadalupe Heritage Museum.

The exhibit honors the contributions of African Americans in Seguin to celebrate Black History Month, which is recognized throughout the month of February each year.

Volunteer Donna Brawner organized the exhibit for the museum.

“The Black History Month collection was fun to put together,” she said. “I learned so much about Guadalupe County and Seguin Blacks. There were so many firsts Blacks did in Guadalupe County.”

The collection boasts exhibits on the Rev. Dr. William Baton Ball, a well known educator and spiritual leader of Seguin. There is information and photos highlighting Juneteenth celebrations from the city’s past. The collection recognizes the Ball High School marching band and accomplishments of students at the high school named after the reverend.

“I think people have forgotten how spectacular the athletic teams were at Ball High and how far they advanced,” Brawner said.

She pointed out the exhibit’s attention paid to Della Lampkin, a woman Brawner said was renown for her fortune telling abilities in the area’s history.

Then there’s her favorite, the exhibit honoring a man she called Seguin’s greatest athlete, “Smokey” Joe Williams. Williams was a pitcher in the Negro leagues and, in 1999, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Though the “Smokey” Joe exhibit is her favorite, the entire collection is a welcome sight for the month of February, Brawner said.

“It needed to be done,” she said. “We wanted to make it so when people come in here, they would see what a treasure the Black history is in Seguin.”

It’s not just the Black History collection but there is much more for folks to see at the museum, which is undergoing a resurgence of sorts, said Deborah Armstrong Parker, a volunteer and secretary of the board of directors.

She and other volunteers are collecting donations to add to exhibits on both floors of the museum, Armstrong Parker said. Their goal is to continue to improve on the offerings at the historical museum, she said.

“Our focus is how do we make the best use of the volunteers to keep the place up and running and thriving,” Armstrong Parker said. “Thanks to people stepping up to the plate, we’re doing better and better.”

While trying to inject new excitement and enthusiasm into the museum, volunteers have opened three new exhibits in recent weeks and all are open to the public, Armstrong Parker said.

Collecting additional donations of historical items as well as cash for operating costs will help, she said. Getting out the word to the community that the museum is there and open is one hurdle she hopes to quickly surmount, Armstrong Parker said.

“People who live in Seguin don’t know we’re here,” she said. “We want that to change.”

People interested in volunteering or donating can call the museum at 830-372-0965 during business hours 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday or email TheHeritageMuseum1898@gmail.com. Or just pop in, Armstrong Parker said.

“Anybody that’s truly interested in volunteering they can just stop by,” she said. “They don’t need to call. They don’t even need to fill out an application.”

Increasing membership is also a goal, Armstrong Parker said.

More African American volunteers are needed, Brawner said. She would like them to assist all year round but helping coordinate the Black History Month exhibit also would be beneficial.

“One thing we’d like to see is more Black people involved with Black History Month,” Brawner said. “There’s so much. We have notebooks of Black pictures we don’t know who they are.”

Find the Seguin-Guadalupe Heritage Museum at the official website at heritagemuseum.net or on Facebook.

Dalondo Moultrie is the assistant managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at dalondo.moultrie@seguingazette.com .

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