Farm museum relives '36 and before

"YES, WE have a lot of old farm machinery gathered up here. But beyond the rusty iron itself, our goal is to use it in a way that teaches folks how and why people lived the way they did 70 years ago. This equipment shaped the very culture of farm and home life in the eastern half of Texas prior to 1936."

Speaking is Jim Templin of Anna, Texas, one of the principals in the Collin County Farm Museum near McKinney, just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

:We're working hard in order that future generations may be able to remember and understand the past better," continues Templin, whose own family roots in the region's heavy black clay soils stem back to the 1850s.

The impressive and little-known farm museum is a part of the 158-acre Collin County Youth Park, Farm Museum and Boy Scout camping area. The youth park itself is the home of the annual county livestock show and dozens of farmer meetings each year. All of the farm and home equipment, building structures and garden site at the museum reflect the year 1936 and earlier. That year, old-timers will remember, was the year of the Texas Centennial.

The museum, which draws several thousand visitors a year, is supported by the Collin County Commissioners Court and other private financial sources.

"We are still adding to our museum collections," notes Randy LaJaunie of McKinney, manager of the Collin County Youth Park and Parks and Open Space. "In addition to the farm implements, we've got here one of the better collections of equipment used for processing farm-grown goods in the home.

"Have you, for example, ever seen a peach peeler, a raisin maker, an old canner, a bone grinder, and even a chuckwagon that followed thresher crews? We've got them all."

LaJaunie says that each year all of the equipment stored in a large metal barn is hauled outside and displayed as demonstrations to museum visitors along with the permanent outside exhibits. Three years ago, the site was host to an old settlers picnic.

Another Collin County native and museum booster is James Randles of Anna. Randles tells how the east side of the 30-square-mile county was actually settled a full 30 years before the western part of the county was inhabited and broken out for agriculture. It seems that the east side, with its rolling, wooded hills, was more like Virginia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas from whence the first settlers came.

The west side, a tall prairie grass region, was flat and needed much larger and as yet unavailable implements to turn the sod and later till the soil.

The stated purpose of the Collin County Farm Museum is to help increase awareness and appreciation of the agricultural heritage of the region. The park and museum is open during regular business hours and is located west of McKinney by way of U.S. Highway 380 and FM 1461 and County Road 166. The route is well marked. The telephone number at the Museum is 972-548-4792.

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