The Oil & Gas industry has been a major part of life in North Texas since the Clayco No. 1 well in Electra struck oil on April 1, 1911. Among our collection are photos from the boom days, drill bits, and much more
Lloyd "Bill" English was a longtime Wichita Falls resident and was a Marine aviator in WW II, flying a P-51 Mustang. Bill fought at Iwo Jima, and he was involved in the Iwo Jima Survivors Reunion, hosted in North Texas for over 30 years. Reunion attendees started donating items they wanted to share, and Bill undertook the task of organizing those items. The collection was first housed in a room in the Wichita Falls Public Library and then moved to its current home. One of those rooms is devoted to the battle of Iwo Jima. Another room houses the unique Bill Carter ship collection-handmade, highly detailed replicas of naval vessels--and one room features the role of women in the military. The entire collection has artifacts from the Civil War up through the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. What makes the Bill English Military Collection particularly special is that the vast majority of items have come from people with a direct connection to North Texas.
The Heritage Hall is home to an amazing collection of western hats known as "Nat's Hats." Clay County native, Nat Fleming, has worn many hats in his life, including that of the owner of a western wear store called The Cow Lot. When a customer bought a new hat, Nat kept the old one and then put it on display in the store. When he finally closed the store after over 50 years, he donated those 500 hats to the Museum. Each hat is identified with a label, and "Nat's Hats" represents a true cross-section of people. The Heritage Hall also has the TV studio set for RFD-3, a daily morning news program that was on the air for 47 years, hosted by area icon Joe Brown. Also featured are the inside of the old Monroe Street post office, replica storefronts, and items related to ranching - another major part of North Texas.
Remember when doctors regularly made house calls--and always brought a doctor's bag? We have one of those bags. We also have a wooden wheelchair, nurse uniforms, an early portable electrocardiogram machine (housed in a wooden box), and bricks from the old Bethania and Wichita General hospitals. The centerpiece of the Medical collection is an iron lung, originally from Archer County.
Mary Thomas had a passion for history, as reflected in her teaching career and her service to this Museum. She was a longtime member of our Board of Directors and the creator and director of our "Bit of History" lecture series. One of her desires was to establish a permanent doll and toy exhibit. She bequeathed a gift to make that happen, including her own doll collection. Mary's significant impact on the Museum can be seen today in the exhibit, and we are honored to ensure her legacy through this permanent part of the Museum.