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
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."
Beckville, Texas History of the Town and its Schools
(Click on thumbnail to view larger version.)