Tallapoosee Historical Museum

The Tallapoosee Historical Museum in historic Dadeville, Tallapoosa County, is dedicated to preserving, sharing, and celebrating the history of Tallapoosa County. The museum focuses on the early settlers and citizens of the county in order to promote its cultural and historical significance. The site also functions as home to the Tallapoosee Historical Society (THS), whose membership consists of people from across the southern region of the United States.

Tallapoosee Historical Museum The museum was founded by the THS in 1969 during Alabama's sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary. Tallapoosee was the name the Creek Nation gave to the area before the territory became part of the state. The museum began as a small institution in Dadeville with a display of artifacts and an emphasis on genealogical research. The museum's location has changed over the years to accommodate its expanding collection. In 2001, the Bank of Dadeville deeded the historical society the building in which the museum is now located. The building was formerly a mercantile and clothing store, and the THS raised enough money to renovate and convert the building into a museum. Between 2010 and 2015, the THS raised additional funds to purchase and also renovate the Ben Franklin Dime Store located next to the museum as an additional exhibit room. The museum's corps of volunteers and THS members help run and support the museum, and it raises operating funds through membership dues and financial donations.

The museum has two large spaces for displaying its historical exhibits and also houses a research room. All of the current exhibits contain donated material: items from local residents or descendants of past residents. Photographs, artifacts, tools, and clothing help to illustrate people, places, occupations, and events from Tallapoosa County history. Exhibits emphasize music, medicine, commerce, domestic life, and the nearby town of Goldville, which was founded in 1842 during the state's short-lived gold rush. The medical exhibit displays medical instruments and physician logs from local practices. There are also photographs and diplomas of local residents who attended Dadeville's Graefenberg Medical Institute, the first functioning medical school chartered by the Alabama legislature. The commerce section highlights the county's relationship to the banking industry in Alabama, with bank notes and photographs from former county banks, and also focuses on the significance of the Russell Corporation to nearby Alexander City. A kitchen exhibit contains a stove, ice-box, and wooden table as well as examples of clothing, including nineteenth- and twentieth-century wedding dresses, hats, gloves, and quilts. A portion of the quilt collection includes squares that are more than 200 years old. Other exhibits include Tallapoosa County high school yearbooks, classroom desks, photos, letter jackets, and a Tallapoosa County ledger of grades. There is a display of bottles from the Dadeville Coca-Cola Company, which was in operation from 1912 until 1934. It was the local bottling plant responsible for bottling Coca-Cola east of the Tallapoosa River and was located across the street from the present Dadeville Public Library. Visitors may also encounter items that could be found in local barber shops such as a chair from the Lockett Barber Shop. There are seats from the old Dadeville movie theater along with a ledger that contains a list of purchases made at the J.J. Clark Saloon.

The research room is open to visitors who wish to read manuscripts, diaries, business ledgers, and genealogical records all related to Tallapoosa County. Surrounding the research tables are some original items used by the Dadeville News, including the frame, movable type, and composing sticks. Opposite of that is a large collection of agricultural tools. The museum has in its collection a delivery wagon that was used by the local Alexander City mercantile store, Duncan and Sons, and was also used to relocate graves that were moved when the Thomas Wesley Martin Dam was built. The second room primarily consists of a military section with uniforms and memorabilia from the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Vietnam conflict, and Operation Desert Storm. There is an original American Flag with 48 stars from 1948, before the admission of Alaska and Hawaii as states, and an exhibit focused on the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, which took place just north of Dadeville and led to the defeat and forced removal of the Creek Nation in Alabama and Georgia.

The Cultural History of Lake Martin exhibit, completed with the support of the Alabama Humanities Foundation, recognizes the historical significance of the people of Tallapoosa County. Photos illustrate the construction of the Lake Martin Dam and emphasize the local citizens involved in the project. Members of the THS helped to organize and create the exhibit. It has been displayed in Alexander City as part of the Water/Ways travelling exhibit done in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street program. A recent project of the museum has focused on Tallapoosa County's individual communities, including Camp Hill, Goldville, Union, Daviston, and Dudleyville, with the aim of including other locations.

The museum is located at 214 North Broadnax Street. It is open Thursday through Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. There is no fee to tour the museum, but donations are welcome. Wind Creek State Park and Horseshoe Bend National Military Park are nearby.

Further Reading

  • The Heritage of Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2000.

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