Heritage, Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 1992 Page: 24
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Historic Tour of
Crosby County Museum and
Ralls Historical Museum
Crosby County, Texas
Story and photographs by Ann McDonald
Crosby County, the county to the east
of Lubbock, has been blessed throughout
its 105-year history with women who had
vision, courage, and goals. These were not
uncommon characteristics during the early
pioneering years, and fortunately, they
have been manifested themselves in different
ways in different women since then.
The Crosby County Pioneer Memorial
and the Ralls Historical Museums, in
Crosby County, both owe their existence
to two women who were inspired to preserve
and celebrate local history in two different
Zina Lamar came to Crosby County in
1914 as the bride of Percy Lamar. They
both taught school, farmed and ran a service
station. They lived in a half dugout for
a few months until they could build a more
substantial home. Through the years, they
both became quite influential in the affairs
of the city of Crosbyton. After Percy died,
Zina set up the Percy and Zina Lamar
Foundation in 1957 of which the future
Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum
and Civic Center (CCPM) became a major
In 1958, Zina and daughter Marie dedicated
the new museum building in memory
of Percy, his parents W.D. and Susan Lamar,
and the pioneer men and women of West
The entrance area and front part of the
building is a replica of the first house built
on the South Plains by Henry (Hank)
Smith in 1876. A two-story, limestone
dwelling, the original house was an oasis for
hundreds of travelers and cowboys in those
Mrs. Lamar's main interest was education,
and the result of her vision in setting
up the Foundation has been the continuous
growth and improvement of exhibits,
information, and services offered in the
CCPM has had only two directors: Tina
Harvey and Verna Anne Wheeler, who is
in her nineteenth year.
Pauline Rails Watkins, niece of John R.
Rails, the founder of the town, nurtured
the idea of a museum many years before she
and her sister, Alma Hendricks, donated
the John R. Rails Bank building to the city
in 1969 for the Rails Historical Museum
(RHM). Watkins and her husband Walker
mobilized the local civic clubs whose members
participated in restoring and furnishing
the 20 rooms in the building.
The structure was first used as a bank
with physician's offices on the second floor.
After the bank closed and the doctors
moved away, the building had a succession
of renters until the museum became a reality.
The two museums complement one
another, not competing, but sharing ideas
and working together. Both work closely
with the Crosby County Historical Commission,
which serves as the umbrella organization
for all historical preservation
projects in the county. Because members of
the commission often serve as members of
other groups, time is saved and duplication
of effort is avoided.
A major avenue of cooperation is
through the CCPM Education Project based
on county history. The project has evolved
into a nationally-recognized pioneering
effort. It has been adopted by the three
school systems in the county as part of their
curriculum with Norma Taylor, the education
director, and other CCPM staff
members going from school to school covering
a variety of aspects of Crosby County
history on many levels.
One of the latest tools in the CCPM
Education Project is story-telling. Staff
member Ema Naceanceno, dressed as a
Comanche Indian, recreates Native
American life for the students through
stories . She has thoroughly researched her
role so that she can give an accurate portrayal
of her character as a mother and food
provider and answer questions that the
students may have.
Another method CCPM has used to
preserve local history has been the original
sponsorship of "God's Country," an outdoor
musical "prairie drama." In 1984, the
museum's Board of Trustees authorized a
study that would lead to the development
of an outdoor drama and theatre to be ready
for the Texas Sesquicentennial in 1986,
which also happened to be the county's
24 HERITAGE * WINTER 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 1992, periodical, Winter 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45418/m1/24/: accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.