Horace King 1807-1885/ Photograph ca 1855/ Courtesy of Thomas L. French
The Heritage Center gallery has several exhibits that give a detail account of what life was like as an African American living in Chesterfield County, South Carolina in the 1800s and mid 1900s. As you enter the gallery, we have an area dedicated to slavery and reconstruction. In this gallery we share a unique story about a slave name Horace King who was born in 1807, gained his freedom and became a successful businessman and statesman.
We also created a one room schoolhouse reminiscent of the Colored Schools attended by the black children in the county.
There are galleries dedicated to the everyday life chores such as washing clothes and sewing. We have some beautiful quilts on display. One set of quilts were made by two generations of the same family, a mother and daughter team who were born in 1890 and 1917. We also have a display case dedicated to clothing worn from different periods throughout history. One of the highlights of this exhibit is the baseball jersey worn by Legrand Bridges who played with the Cheraw Red Soxs a local African American baseball team.
There is a Civil Rights exhibit that gives a glimpse of what was going on in the area. We have memorabilia from the only African American attorney practicing law in Chesterfield County, Mr. John E. McCall. Attorney McCall was also instrumental in the process of desegregating the Chesterfield County public school system. There are some artifacts on hand that belonged to Mr. Levi G. Byrd who was one of the founders of the state NAACP as well as the local chapter.
The Heritage Center also pays tribute to Cheraw's most famous son, John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie. You get to learn about Dizzy growing up in Cheraw and we have photographs of him and family members on display. On the right day you may catch his first cousin visiting for a chat.
The favorite exhibit among students and groups of all ages is "Grandma's Kitchen". It takes you back to a time of canning preserves, using wood to heat the stove and churning butter.
We are also pleased to have a special exhibit of antique and vintage African American dolls. This collection belongs to Cassandra Williams Rush who has collected dolls for over eighteen years and has exhibited in several museums.
EXPANDING THE EXHIBITS AND COLLECTION
The Heritage Center works constantly to actively collect, preserve, and present its collections in support of its mission to "preserve African American history in Chesterfield County." If you have an artifact that you would like to donate to the Heritage Center, please give us a call. We can only accept donations that support our mission. If you are interested, we will be more than happy to share our guidelines with you. Feel free to contact us with your questions or comments.