HISTORY OF FECM
Early in 1928 rapid changes occurring in Owens Valley forced a realization that much historical data and material concerning Inyo County would soon be lost unless means of preserving them were found. At the same time, a group of young men were interested in collecting the remains of Indian culture, locating and photographing their petroglyphs and in any way possible recreating the history of a partly vanished way of life Among these young men were Ralph Bell, Frank Parcher , Charles Forbes, and William Sanford. Frank’s mother, Mrs. W. C. Parcher , shared their interest. She also thought that the history of pioneer life in this region should be preserved.
It was her plan that a museum be created to exhibit these varied collections. This resulted in the formation of the Eastern California Museum Association with Mrs. Parcher as first president; a position she held for several years. She strove from the first to develop a broad, comprehensive collection with departments of history, geology, botany, mineralogy, and Indian anthropology. How well she succeeded may be seen by even a casual visit to the museum.
The Eastern California Museum Association was formally organized Sunday evening. May 5 ,1928 , at the Bishop Branch of the Inyo County Library. The purpose of the organization was to collect, house, protect, preserve, and classify objects and natural landmarks of historic and scientific interest found in Eastern California and adjacent fields.
The first officers elected for the organization were Mrs. W.C. Parcher as President, Lawson Brainard as Vice President, and Charles Forbes as, Secretary/Treasurer. The other members of the Board of Directors were Douglas Robinson, William A. Irwin Jr., Bessie T. Best, Frank M. Parcher , and G. Walter Dow. Frank Parcher was appointed to be the museum’s first Curator. The committees created by the Board of Directors were many. They covered all of the ” ologies “, plus History and Landmarks, Publicity, Research, House and Finance.
The committee chairmen were knowledgeable, ambitious, civic-minded people. Sparked by the enthusiasm of the first officers and committee chairmen, the immediate need of housing was obvious. Search for the means to provide housing began soon after the Association was formed and will continue as long as there is a museum ;there is never enough room. Since the Eastern California Museum Association is sixty years old, and many events have taken place and many supporters have come and gone, it might be well to list the high points in chronological order:
– May 5. Eastern California Museum Association was organized.
– January. Granted use of a room in the basement the courthouse for storage.
– Through hard work and much correspondence to the Department of Interior, succeeded in having ten thousand acres of land withdrawn from entry in Eastern California and Western Nevada . This land contained aboriginal sites, petroglyphs, petrified forests and other Indian artifacts. This order has since been revoked .
– January. Eastern California Museum Association was incorporated.
– Permanent use of the room in the basement of the Courthouse and a budget of five hundred dollars granted by County Board of Supervisors.
– Annual membership dinners, yearly election of officers, monthly field trips , museum library and a landmarks program. Collection of botanical specimens and participation in a pioneer archaeological survey of Saline Valley .
– Collection of invaluable local family histories.
– Second room in Courthouse provided by Board of Supervisors, and a five thousand dollar budget.
– New display cases.
– Washington Hand Press.
– No. 18 Narrow gauge Railroad Locomotive.
– Charcoal Kilns at Cottonwood Creek.
– Herbarium exhibit installed.
– Host to annual meeting of Archaeological
– Survey Association.
– Research Inyo’s complicated history.
– Collections organized, records updated, and increased open hours.
– Point Typology Workshop administered by guest scientist, Ruth D. Simpson.
– Mammoth Creek Cave and Crooked Creek Excavation.
– Ruth D. Simpson served as technical advisor.
– Dr. Louis Leakey speaker at 1965 annual dinner.
– Black Collection of Paiute -Shoshone baskets.
– Membership reached 1300.
– Bottle workshops fund-raisers.
– G. Walter and Maude Dow donated a large sum of money for construction of a new building on Grant Street . Building dedicated in 1968 to memory of Mr. and Mrs. Dow.
– County Board of Supervisors accepted the new building as a gift and created the Inyo County Museums Department with budget and county staff .
– Commander’s House restored.
– “Round About the Museum”; column for Inyo Independent.
– “Moving Day” to new building.
– Assayer’s Office – first building of “Ghost Town” complex; Hanna House, Livery Stable, Brewery Office, Pete Mairs ‘ utility shack, stock room and privies added to Ghost Town.
– D.W.P. historic equipment yard.
– Tape of Helen Gunn’s music box discs.
– Manzanar exhibit started.
– Bicentennial Variety and Fashion Review sponsored by Independence Garden Club and hosted by Museum.
– Hilderman Estate papers.
– Eastern California Museum Association becomes Eastern California Historical Society
– Friends of the Eastern California Museum organized.
– Fund-raisers-Christmas Boutique, Western Game Brunch,
– 1880’s Hands-on Work Day, and Bingo.
– Building Fund Campaign.
– Friends of the Eastern California Museum purchased computer for Museum use.
– Ten thousand dollars from Mary Cavitt estate.
– Twenty-five shares of Abbott Laboratories stock donated to Building Fund by Doris Statham.
– George Malcolm butterfly collection.
– Indian baskets, crystal, china, dolls, porcelain figurines, china cabinet, and two small cabinets from Ellen Evans estate.
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Through the efforts of loyal supporters and hard work performed by countless volunteers, the Museum has thrived.
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