In 1984, DeSoto County citizens formed the Historic DeSoto Foundation to preserve DeSoto County history by recording our past, collecting artifacts and photographs, and dreamed of one day opening a museum. In 1998, two events pushed the development of a DeSoto County museum into high gear. First, a historic home was torn down in order to build the county’s new administration building. The loss of this home, along with many other historic structures over the years, highlighted the need for a place to preserve county history. The project also took a new turn when Hernando’s First Presbyterian Church property came up for sale. At the encouragement of the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors, the decision was made to purchase this property to preserve the 1870’s church and convert the education building into a museum.
The Historic DeSoto Foundation raised over $400,000 dollars to buy the property and was awarded a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for the renovation of the museum building. The Museum began a twelve-month project to renovate the building and to create the exhibits. The museum opened to the public on March 1, 2003.
The Unknown Child Exhibit honors the memory of 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust. Stunning black-and-white photographs, interactive images and holograms of the faces of the lost children are part of the display. An accompanying exhibit on the cultural impact of of DeSoto County's early Jewish settlers, the Goodman family, is also on display. Treasures such as a 2,000 year-old oil lamp discovered in the Dead Sea Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found is on display, along with a vintage 1880s solid bronze Menorah or Hanukkah, which belonged to rural Mississippi Jewish settlers, is also on display. The heroic efforts of Col. William W. Goodman, who rescued 1,200 Jewish families is chronicled along with a letter from famed Nobel Price winning scientist Albert Einstein, a relative of the Goodman family, whose assistance was sought to free mutual family members from the Holocaust.
Crumpler-Ferguson Log Cabin
The Crumpler Ferguson Log Cabin has served, alternately, as a field hospital during the American Civil War, a way station for weary travelers along the Historic Hernando Plank Road to Memphis, a restaurant and a family home.
The past 150 years have not been kind to the cabin. Major renovation, including mud-chinking by specialists in that field, new vintage glass window panes, removal of rotting boards and installation of air conditioning is one room are planned so that classroom space can be provided for future generations who will come to the cabin to learn such vanishing crafts as butter churning and cheese making, lye soap making, quilting, chair caning and weaving.