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Stories from the valley

Visiting the Sacramento Valley Museum

Contributed by Steve Beckley

My recent visit to the Sacramento Valley Museum in Williams to study the history of Colusa County also allowed me also to catch up on family history.  The Museum is in a building built in 1911 that housed Williams High School until 1956 and is dedicated to collecting and preserving the historical development of our valley.

Friendship QuiltThe Museum is currently hosting a Quilt Show and one of the featured quilts is the Friendship Quilt, which was made by members of my hometown Grimes Ladies Aid Society in 1908 – 1909.  The quilt, donated by my dad’s cousin Cecile Ettl, has 480 signatures embroidered on it, including Presidents Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.  More important to me were the signatures from my paternal grandparents’ families the Beckleys and Fruchtecnichts and other local families I knew. It was so neat to see so much history of Grimes in this quilt.

In another room of the room of the museum is a quilt donated by my cousin Mary Gillaspy McMurtry made by her grandmother Mary Anne Gillaspy, whom we called Grandma Anne as youngsters and was a teacher in a one-room school in the local Johns School District.

Farm to Table“From Farm to the Table Colusa County in 1930s” is the name of one of the exhibits featuring the area’s agriculture.  It shows how the county provided fruit, rice, grains, dairy and meat to the nation that was in a depression as the dustbowl raged.  An article from the January 15, 1930 Colusa Sun Herald showed among the county’s leading crop in acreage were wheat/barley, almonds, various fruits, and rice.   This is a role that Colusa County still continues as locally grown products go all over the country and world. The title of this exhibit shows Colusa County was ahead of its time promoting the Farm to Fork theme.

My visit to the museum went fast, between viewing the exhibits and visiting with old friends that are involved in the museum.   There’s so much more to see including displays of how life was in the mid 19th and mid 20th centuries.  One recent addition is several hundred Colusa County Record Books that contain an extensive collection of history. When traveling through our region, the Sacramento Valley Museum is a worthwhile stop.