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The Miss Jane Library & Museum is located in downtown Beckville, Texas, which has a population of approximately 800. Beckville, once a thriving farming community, is located in deep East Texas in Panola County. The Miss Jane Library & Museum dedicated to preserving the history, artifacts, genealogy, and family stories of its community. Since 1997, the library and museum has been located in 1918 Beckville Continental Bank building. (See history below.)


Donations, grants, and fundraisers have raised more than $25,000 for improvements to the building. The museum annually sponsors a Christmas Bazaar as a way of raising money. The first bazaar, held December 1997, was held with lanterns, lamps, and electricity partially borrowed from the city. The building was heated with a generator. The bazaar held December 2001, grossed over $4,000.


In 1997, two sisters and a cousin decided the 1918 Beckville Continental Bank building in Beckville, Texas would make a great home for a local library and museum. The building, which originally house a bank and later a post office, was one of the few buildings still standing on Washington Street.

Jane Metcalf, a 1940 graduate and retired elementary teacher, and her sister, Phyllis Martin, a 1942 Beckville ISD graduate, and their cousin, Ruby Smith, spearheaded the project. They had talked about the concept for years before following up with the family of Alber Key, who owned the building for years prior to his death.

The bank building belonged to Key's widow and grandson and was being rented for storage by Adams Oil Company. The family agreed to sell the building for the value carried on the tax rolls, $6,000. Mrs. Martinson suggested naming the museum after her sister, who was called "Miss Jane" by her students, and since she had been interested in preserving local history and had published, Pictorial History of Beckville Schools, 1888-1978 some 19 years earlier.

In order for the museum to belong to the community, it was incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation, The Miss Jane Library and Museum Foundation, Inc.

"Jane Metcalf had always dreamed of the building becoming a museum," according to notes from the Miss Jane Library & Museum dated April 5, 1997. "She had copies of all Beckville yearbooks, along with several books written by local residents and about Beckville," her sister said. She was concerned there was no place to store school trophies. The founders were sure many people would donate memorabilia relating to the town's past.

Eleven local residents met March 31, 1997, at the First Methodist United Methodist Church in Beckville to organize, approve the by-laws written by the three original organizers and the foundation's attorney and to elect the first officers.

The first officers included: Johnnie Graham Ferris, president; and six vice-presidents: Jeanette Evans, Mary Jo Wilson, Judy Rogers, Gloria Fay Bowman, Laurie Hightower, and Diane Davidson. Other officers included Sally Metcalf Dawson, secretary; and Bonita Philips, treasurer.

Committee members selected were Tom Martinson, V. R. (Bud) Metcalf, Home Metcalf, Debbie Gates, Danny Buck Davidson, Ruby Smith, Paulette Goree, Gloria Faye Adams, John Cordray, Phyllis Martinson, and Jane Metcalf.

The town of Beckville is named after William Beck, the first person to settle there. The original site was about 1 mile southeast of the present town of Beckville. It is known as "Old Beckville."

Photos from
Beckville, Texas History of the Town and its Schools
(Click on thumbnail to view larger version.)
Ada Davidson
Ada Davidson ran the switchboard and was the town crier into the late 1940s.
Beckville RR depot
Linus Parker with grandson Brian Cummins on depot platform, circa 1955.
Hollis Woolsey sends telegraph message from the RR depot.
Agent Hollis Woolsey telegraphs a message, circa 1950s.
Horace Akins and the one that didn't get away
Horace Akins enjoyed fishing as a young boy growing up in Beckville, Texas.
"Mr. Irby" turned the town's lights on each morning and turned them off in the evening.
Irby Driscoll at his electric plant, circa 1918-1920.
Pauline Parker and friend
Pauline Parker, right, and friend with stacks of crossties posing for a Kodak moment, circa 1924.
Miss Ruby Akins, Beckville High School Queen, 1927
Beckville High School May Queen, Miss Ruby Akins, 1927.
Horace Ward Brown, WWI
Horace Ward Brown in World War I uniform, circa 1917.
Cotton scales and bandstand in downtown Beckville, Texas
Cotton was taken to be weighed on scales shown left of the bandstand (where gazebo stands today on Washington St.).
 

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