The Museum is regularly open on the 2nd Saturday of the month from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm



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On Saturday October 3rd we had the annual Cordova Fall Festival. Although turnout was smaller than last year, I am sure the weather had an impact. It only got to 54 degrees and quite blustery. Our Cordova Museum may have had record attendance. There was so much interest and got so many postive reviews in our Sign In Log Book. 

We were really excited about the crowd and really was the boost we needed to know that we are on a postive path and will work hard to maintain this rich heritage. A more detailed News letter will be coming very soon with more precise details. 

Thanks for everyone's support.

Cecil Redditt, Museum Board President



The newsletter will come quarterly until further notice We are looking for volunteers for the Museum. Please contact any of the Board Members that are listed on the "Museum Board of Directors" section of this site

July 2015

Hello, Friends

July has been a rugged month is some ways. First, for those of you not living in the Mid-South, count yourself lucky. The weather has been brutal. Museum attendance suffered due to the intense heat and due to another program running at the Community Center throughout the summer.

A new two-part Memorial Exhibit honoring Mr. Richard Schwam, Cordova’s Cowboy, who died recently, has been completed. Our Director, Darlene Hooker Sawyer, created this pictorial exhibit from photos submitted by Becky Stillions, volunteer and Museum Board member, from photos found in the museum’s collection and those submitted by the Schwam family.

You need to know about several changes regarding how to contact Cordova Museum from this point forward:

Website: WWW.CORDOVAMUSEUM.COM then click on the “Contact Us’ tab. 
Phone: 901-440-8226 (Please remove 901-581-***8 as a good contact number)

This is the last time you will receive a Newsletter from the CORDOVAMUSEUM@GMAIL.COM address. This is also Darlene’s personal account and has been for many years. She will be transitioning to a new address at SAWYER.DARLENE@YAHOO.COM. If you are so inclined to contact her in the future, I am sure she would be delighted to hear from friends she made while being our Director. The Museum will be transitioning to its own email account as mentioned above. We felt Newsletter would wind up in many spam folders if we didn’t give a notice prior to a changeover.

Sadly, I have to announce that Darlene resigned her position as Director on July 19, 2015, after five years of hard work and total dedication to this institution. 

I have had the privilege to work for, and side-by-side with, Darlene for over two years. You may recall I was, for five years, Historian and then Assistant Director of what was then called the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque. I can say without reservation that I never met another museum professional who gave more of themselves to this calling than Darlene. I’m afraid the soul of our museum has been lost. A replacement for Darlene may be found, but it will never be another Darlene.

Jim Wadell 
aka Your Plucky Scribe

June 2015


Hello, Friends

This is Jim Wadell reporting to you about the activities of the Museum for the month of June. 


The Museum has been managing to keep regular business hours of operation thus far through the summer.  Attendance has been very slow of late, due in part to the rental of the whole building to the YMCA Camp for their children’s summer program.  We know people are hesitant to stop in for fear of intruding in planned events when they see cars and activity underway. 

The Explore Memphis program has brought several new visitors early in this month, though their numbers have dropped off of late. Quite a few said they didn’t know that Cordova had a museum and had never been inside the historic building before. Many of these visitors lived within a short distance.  Some were from the Bartlett and Memphis.  They were all pleased to find such a little jewel of a museum hidden away and still virtually unknown.

As many of you know, Darlene Sawyer, our Director, has been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.   She is still on medical leave, and without her enthusiasm and planning of field trips and other things for the community, it has affected the Museum quite a bit.  She is doing well, but please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she works her way through this medical process and follow up care.   

Memorial for Mr. Richard Lee Schwam

The Museum has received $200 in donations that will be used in making of a pictorial memorial for Mr. Richard Schwam – Cordova’s Cowboy - who died recently at the age of 94.  Mr. Richard was born and raised in Cordova.  He was born August 16, 1920 to John Henry Schwam and Jennie Poston Schwam and was the youngest of seven sons and four daughters who are all now deceased.  Mr. Schwam died on June 1, 2015 leaving numerous relatives still in the Cordova area.  He was a member of the Cordova Presbyterian Church and well loved by the community. 

Mr. Richard’s means of transportation was by horse his entire lifetime.  Many claim to have seen him riding far from Cordova in his younger days. Some say he had a lantern to light his way back home after dark. He made many friends far and wide as he took time to stop and visit while riding down the streets of Cordova.  He delighted to give children rides on the horse and always enjoyed talking to anyone that had time. 

Mr. Richard was age 92 the last time he rode his horse in the July 4th Parade at the Cordova Community Center.  Many knew him by name, but many others only knew him as “THE MAN THAT RIDES THE HORSE IN CORDOVA.” 

Mr. Richard Schwam will forever be remembered as a Cordova icon. The Museum wishes to thank those that sent in donations.

America's Birthday Celebration

As we leave June and enter July, don't forget the Museum will be open during the annual 4th of July Parade that will be held on the streets surrounding the Community Center.  The program will begin at approximately 9:00 a.m. with the parade beginning immediately thereafter.  Come out, stand proud and tall, and salute Old Glory as we celebrate the birthday of the greatest nation on earth - our United States of America!

 Until next time,

 Jim Wadell

aka “Your plucky scribe”

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May 2015

Hello, Friends,

The month of May has been filled with a number of different happenings at the Museum.  This is Jim Wadell reporting.

Museum Board Meeting

We had another good board meeting this month.  All of the Board members are bonding nicely into a good team. Bill Massey, a member of the Cordova Community Center Board, has attended our meetings, offering good information and observations from that direction.

Explore Memphis

Cordova Museum will be participating in the Explore Memphis program offered by the Memphis Public Library.  Participants are encouraged to go out and learn about where they live.  Free passes are given for participating locations.  Cordova Museum will be participating in this event from June 1 through July 26. We may also provide a presentation on Cordova’s history at one or more of the Library’s 18 locations.

Visitor of the Month

Our visitor of the month is Richard Redditt.  He not only stopped by to the see the Museum, but also brought an artifact.  Richard attended Cordova School from 1956 to 1964.  He recalls that his favorite teacher was “Miss Sue, a sweet lady who never paddled me.”  He also had fond memories of all his classmates, particularly the girls whom he had a crush on.  Richard graduated from Germantown High School in 1969.  He served in Viet Nam for 1 ½ years.  Leaving the army, he took up carpentry and construction work in Memphis, retiring in 2010.  He is currently living in North Carolina.  Richard claims to “have more hobbies than money,” spending time in building furniture as well as doing home repairs.  Richard brought with him a sturdy wooden swivel chair that had been used in the Cordova train station, with the initials “NC&SLR” (Nashville, Chattanooga & St Louis Railway) engraved on the back.  It makes a great companion piece for the train station bench we have had for years.  Thanks to Richard for his generosity and finding the right home for this old chair.


Speaking Engagement

Advent Presbyterian Church on Germantown Parkway asked for a presentation on Cordova history on May 14.  I was their speaker and gave them a PowerPoint presentation on the history of Cordova, the Cordova School, and the evolution of the Museum at this senior citizen luncheon.  Approximately 50 seniors were in attendance.  I told them I always liked to talk to people who knew and remembered the same presidents as me.

Another Plea for Photos

You have always heard that “a picture is worth a million words,” and that is really true.  Photos are a tangible link to the past and invaluable in recording history.  Unfortunately, every day a vast number of photos are destroyed or thrown away because heirs have no idea who or what has been captured on film.  If you have photos of people, places or things that relate to Cordova history, please, please share them with us.  Take the effort to identify, in pencil on the back of the photo, the whos, whats, wheres, and whens and bring these to the Museum as a donation, or share them with us through allowing us to scan and preserve them digitally.  We have a streamlined process to do so that is quick and easy.  We just need your input to make it work!

Some Closing Words of Appreciation

As many of you know, our Director, Darlene Sawyer, has been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.  She has done a ton of research on this topic, consulted and coordinated with numerous doctors, and has determined a course of action.  She will have surgery on June 11 and will be on a medical leave of absence from the Museum for a convalescent period of about six weeks.  Many of you have already given her great reassurance through emails, texts, phone calls and in person.  This has given her an uplift in spirits. Please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she works her way through this medical process and follow up care.

I must add that cancer has also confronted my family.  My wife, Roz, had a malignant colon polyp recently and is currently undergoing chemotherapy until the end of August.  Thus far she has had no problems resulting from the treatment.  Thanks to all of you who have inquired about how she was faring. 

Until next time,

Jim Wadell

aka “Your plucky scribe”


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April 2015

Hello Friends!


Sometimes time will seem to drag along and other times it speeds by in the blink of an eye.  It seems an eternity from when momentum was gathered to establish a Museum board, but I am delighted to say things have begun falling in place and as of April 6, the State of Tennessee has filed our Charter which designates Cordova Museum as a Nonprofit Corporation as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.  We also now have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for use in business and tax matters. The Museum can now proceed financially as an entity.


The Museum Board meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 4:30 pm in the Museum. Our most recent meeting was April 7. The meeting went exceptionally well and addressed a number of issues. Board minutes are available for review in the Museum. Our next meeting is May 5.


We are excited about the publication of another book this year!  Darlene Sawyer, Museum Director, has worked for more than three years transcribing oral history interviews for the new books’ manuscript. The book will be published to raise funds for the Museum. Plans are to have a book signing in conjunction with a music social. More details will follow in a future newsletter when we determine when this will take place. 

The Museum would like to continue conducting oral interviews to add to its collection.  If you have a family member that grew up in Cordova who remembers the flower farms, attended old Cordova School and is related to many of the families in the Cordova area, then please call the Museum to schedule an interview.  We have a list of questions to ask them in order to start the flow of conversation that will be taped.  The taped interview will be transcribed and a typed copy shared with the interviewee who will then be asked to then edit or amend it to clarify what was meant. Allowing the editing of the interview puts the interviewee at ease as they know that it reads exactly as intended.  Give us a call at (901) 440-8226 if you or a family member would like to participate.


Darlene also attended the annual Shelby County History Festival held at Hillwood Hall over at Davies Manor on Sunday, March 29, from Noon to 4:00 pm. This is her third year in attendance to represent Cordova Museum. Also in attendance were Cecil Redditt, Museum Board President, and his wife Brenda, Betty Chinery, the Board Secretary, and Becky Stillions, the Museum’s Photographer.

If you have not attended one of these events, make plans to go next year and meet lots of historians and speak to them about the organizations they are involved in and when and where they meet. Check out the history books available for purchase. See how beautiful it is at Davies Manor Plantation. You’re sure to enjoy seeing all the re-enactors wearing period clothing as the walk the grounds. 

Darlene also spoke to a group of Shelby County Historical Commission members at Shelby County Archives on April 9.  She was nice enough to take me along to tote things and serve as timekeeper. Her presentation on our Museum and what we do was well received. 


I would like to remind you of the FREE offered at the Museum. This is normally $30 a month for home subscriptions.  It is a wonderful tool to access census records, death and military records, and even immigration information. You will need to do a little bit of prep work before coming. First, write down everything you know about your family starting with parents and grandparents.  You should check in old family Bibles for names, births and deaths.  These are clues to help you with your research.  You can also look on the back of old photographs for names, dates and locations. Talk to oldest family members and get them to share memories and look through the photos with them to identify family members. Now that you have gathered this vital information, you should take advantage of FREE at the Museum.  Please stop by anytime on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.


While you may be hunting though old photographs, remember the Museum would like to scan any old photographs of early settlers from the Cordova area, including photos of historic homes, buildings, schools, landscapes, social gatherings, farms, family reunions, etc. The Museum has over 3,000 photos and documents already on file that are digitized, tagged and ready to share.  Some have been published in fundraiser books. Others were shown to Museum visitors who were able to see their own ancestors for the first time.

Put any photos you would like to bring to the Museum in a Ziplock bag and write your name on the outside of the bag. We will scan them instantly while you wait.  If you don’t have time to wait, we can scan them and will put them back in the same Ziplock bag and hold them until they are picked up at your convenience. You will need to sign a form with your name, address, phone, and date to leave your photos. We also need to know who or what EACH picture is of, approximate date and where taken. Photos are priceless if identified, and if not they become worthless. Please question the oldest family members to make sure your old photos are left as family heirlooms, and let us know if we can help to preserve and share them.     


One more reason to come by and start your own family research is that it may be beneficial to discover illnesses experienced by your ancestors, to document this for your health records and to pass this information along to your children. Our director, Darlene Sawyer, found this to be true when just weeks ago she was diagnosed with an abnormal mammogram, resulting in a biopsy and prognosis of early stage breast cancer. In her own words below, she explains why knowing her family’s medical history helped.

“I have always loved documenting family history, but I never really thought about the importance of gathering the medical history. Today I faced some pretty tough decisions. Thankfully, I knew enough about some of the health problems of close maternal and paternal families. I guess we all laugh (sometimes get mad) when asked to fill out answers to questions at the doctor’s office about "our relatives" and what diseases they had or didn't have, what age they were when diagnosed, and so on. Goodness, it seems just overwhelming, and I am doing good to provide answers to questions about myself. Why would they ask about my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles?  This is silly. Or is it?  When we are young we don't know - and don't care, simple as that. We can't imagine what they have to do with us and our visit to the doctor for a sore throat and allergies!  Perhaps all the family members didn't go around speaking about their medical problems. Maybe they were very private and didn't share this information or didn't want to be a complainer. Perhaps we just didn't ask them and never realized how that information could be important to us. From now on, I will encourage everyone to gather medical history. It is important and helps in medical diagnosis. Today I would have been advised to have a simple lumpectomy followed by daily radiation for 5 - 6 weeks. Because I knew a lot of my family’s medical history, I was able to request a consultation and genetic testing that may alter my treatment to a more preventive measure. So, there really is a reason the doctors ask these questions as we fill out our medical history. If you want to help your own children and grandchildren, then take time to document who in your family had cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, etc., and at what age diagnosed. They will be glad you did!”

Darlene is taking some time off to consult with doctors and will soon be undergoing treatment. While she’s taking time away, there are volunteers rotating to try and keep the Museum open during the same hours. Without Darlene, a lot of energy leaves the Museum, but it is our challenge to keep the door open and continue with the wonderful public service she has provided over the years. We have developed and conducted docent training so the Museum won’t revert to the “storeroom only open on occasion” like it once was. While the schedule may get a little ragged at times, we have pretty much got a lock on who is working when in May. We will take ‘em one month at a time. If you have a day you could devote to being a docent on a regular basis, please contact me; we’ll set up training and work you into the schedule.  Darlene left us with plenty of notes and instructions but mostly advised us to “have fun.”  There is a lot that she did that we were unaware of, but most importantly she loved what she did and that is what she wishes for us to do.

And, on a final note, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she strives to get totally well.

Until Next Time!

Jim Wadell aka Your Plucky Scribe

March 2015

Hello Friends!

I hoped to have wonderful news to report about the process of establishing 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization but I cannot give you any new information.  We have been waiting for proof that good things are happening.  While feeling a bit stymied, we have established a Board of Directors and have been already working and planning. 

The people who rallied to support the museum are some of the best people I have ever met.  To see them all working together on ways to keep the museum afloat is simply amazing.  And even more people are behind the scenes, having already been connected with the museum by serving as volunteers and who are on standby should they be needed also as board members.  I view it as divine intervention, nothing short of miraculous.  That’s how I see it.  They are a blessing to me.  Let's introduce them.

From left to right: Cecil Redditt, Jim Wadell, Betty Chinery, Jane Hooker, Bonnie Pinkston, then me – Darlene Sawyer, Mary Smith, Barbara Tucker, Gary Rogers and Becky Stillions.

While this is not the best picture of our group, it will do until we can get a better picture soon, perhaps on the steps of the entrance to our beloved old Cordova School building.  Several of these people are former students.  Those are Cecil, me, Mary, Barbara, Gary, and Jane’s late husband.  Many of us had parents who were students, and Cecil’s mother was a Cordova School teacher. 

Cecil has served on several boards, most recently as CFO for the non-profit Mid-South Rally supporting Wounded Warriors.  He has been trained in leadership and management.  He has a long family history in the community. Cecil will serve as the Museum Board President.   

Jim Wadell comes to the board offering five years of museum experience as the assistant director of the National Atomic Museum, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  He is the only one with  a museum background, but we blend his skills with my roots and pride in Cordova to improve our museum in numerous ways.  We work good in tandem and make a great team.  Jim is a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and will serve as the Museum Board Sergeant of Arms.  

Betty Chinery is involved in many historical organizations, serving on their boards, and in planning events at her church to include the production of the church’s weekly newsletter.  She has an unbounded love of history and had training in marketing museums to attract and maintain membership.  Betty will serve as the Cordova Museum Secretary.

Dr. Jane Hooker has served on thirteen boards at the national, regional, state, local, University of Memphis levels concerning, among other things, athletics, special needs, sports and church.  She is a local historian and genealogist who will benefit the museum’s outreach in helping the community with local history research.  She is the Museum Historian and Genealogy Consultant. She is also a Platinum Level supporter of the Museum. 

Bonnie Pinkston is the granddaughter of Dr. G. F. Pinkston, the first and only African American doctor practicing on Lenow Road when Cordova was a rural area. Bonnie has served on boards of several different organizations in areas of culture, arts, abuse, women and teens. She has internet and computer skills as well as skills in event planning.  

Mary Smith has a background in finance for non-profits and serves as financial secretary for two churches.  She knows accounts payable, receivables, payroll, taxes, statements, and generates monthly and annual reports. She provides assistance to the church’s finance committee in budget preparation. Of course, Mary will be the Cordova Museum Treasurer. 

Barbara Tucker has been active with Girls Scouts for over fifty years, serves on the board of East Memphis Kiwanis Club and was their former President.  She is also involved in other organizations that support outstanding young students and community. 

Gary Rogers serves on the board of directors for The Secercy and Nannie Harris Scholarship Foundation. He is an Elder of his church and has a long time family history connection to Cordova.  He will be helping the museum advance in efforts to collect, digitize and preserve the local African American history.  He will serve as Cordova Museum Vice President.   

Becky Stillions has been an enormous asset to Cordova Museum in offering her talent in photography for free to assist in advertising and with exhibits.  Her images have been used in local newspapers, magazines, and even restaurants, which help promote the museum and in its outreach to the community.  Her photographs have been used in our museum’s brochures, business cards and rack cards.  Her husband is also a key player in offering photographic assistance to the museum.   

That only leaves me, Darlene Sawyer, and most of you know me and what it is that I do at the museum.  I am the Cordova Museum Curator/Director.  My family settled in this area in 1836 so I have a connection to the area and people of the community.  Heck, I’m related to almost everyone who is a long time member of the community!  I love genealogy and preserving old photos, and that has been my hobby for over 25 years.

Working at the museum allows me to assist others in preservation of their own family history and in collecting and digitizing photos and documents that may otherwise be stashed away in a sock drawer and at high risk of being lost forever in case of a home fire or other disaster.  These things can easily be scanned to a computer, tagged and shared with other immediate family members and even long lost cousins; and this was never an option in the past for many. Some of the older citizens still have so much information that needs to be pulled out and brought in for scanning.  I also love to interview the older citizens of the community and have worked hard to put all of the information gathered in files, on display, digitized on the computer and in published books. 

I truly enjoy visiting cemeteries to photograph tombstones because they do not last forever.  They become hard to read due to time and weather and are always at risk of damage falling tree limbs and such.  It’s great fun to locate forgotten cemeteries and photograph stones found there.  Believe it or not, it is very rewarding to pull out a small bag of flour and rub the stone to see the name and dates suddenly appear that were not visible before.  Ok, that’s enough about me and what I do. 

We can always use help at the museum, and I am always happy to see new people wanting to get involved.  We need ‘positive’ people that are ‘optimistic’ about the little museum doing great things for the community.  You’ll need to enjoy meeting new people and in speaking to them to share the history of the building and town.  If interested, come by and sign up for your preference of day and time that you would like to get involved.  I am not able to remember who needs what day or what hours so a form is at the museum that helps me to organize work schedules. 

I do have some good news and bad news.  Bad news is that Jim Wadell’s wife had surgery and is going to need post surgery attention.  He is the Museum’s Assistant Director, and he and I have worked  together every Tuesday and some Saturdays.  His wife is on the mend, but Jim is uncertain how helping her during her convalescence will affect his weekly work in the museum.  This is where the schedule mentioned above will come in handy.  

Good news is that Jim’s daughter is visiting from California, and she had a chance to visit with Jim at the museum.  I captured the two of them as they sat doing genealogy.  Lara has done an excellent job of using at home to build a family tree. She even recently made a trip to Salt Lake City to learn more about how to do research.  Jim sat with her, looking at family photos, and was most interested in how she had gathered all the photos and discovered his ancestors.  Some of the names he recognized, but many of her discoveries were new to him.  It was a joy to see the two of them sharing stories and Lara explaining all the things she had learned about their family.    


Jim Wadell and daughter Lara Kelley


Cordova Museum will have a table at the annual Shelby County History Festival held at Davies Manor Plantation in the Hillwood Hall on Sunday, March 29, from Noon to 4:00 pm. You can tour the Manor home free while there.  Plan to join us this Sunday and see the many organizations that you can visit or become involved in as you speak to some of the historians.   

 Until Next time!

Darlene Sawyer



Feb. 2015

Hello Friends!

Usually it is Jim Wadell - museum volunteer – that writes the monthly newsletters. This time, I have something very important to say so I will write this newsletter – Darlene Sawyer. (Jim can add additional comments at the end if he wishes.)

We sent out an earlier notice that our January Newsletter was being put on hold until some information became available that was more than speculation.  Since then a number of things has happened that allows me to give a general overview and present status.

Basically, the main difficulty was the Museum’s finances.  One thing hamstringing us was not having a 501(c)(3) (tax exempt) status to reference when submitting grant applications.  If we tried to use the 501(c)(3) status of the Cordova Community Center (CCC) in our grant submissions, the chances of grants being awarded were very slim.  The wording of their 501(c)(3) does not apply to the museum or history.  Another stumbling block was that I was not successful in finishing a new fundraiser book like intended before the end of last year.  So, few funds were available for Museum operations, and things looked so bleak that I was seriously considering offering my resignation as Director.

However, on two recent occasions in February, productive meetings were held between the CCC Board and me, along with former students, several community leaders and Museum volunteers.  Now consideration is being given to allow the Museum more freedom to have its own Board of Directors and financial management. Details are still being worked out so I am not at liberty to explain things in greater detail at this time. 

A book on Cordova’s oral history is still viable.  I have conducted additional interviews and have teamed up with photographer Becky Stillions to illustrate the book of transcriptions with colored prints of Cordova’s historic buildings.  Once funding is replenished, this book will be used to rally support of the community through purchases that will benefit the Museum.     

Cordova’s history is being threatened slowly by being sucked away due to the passage of time and the town’s unsuccessful attempt at incorporation.  The Museum, I believe, can play a significant part in holding tight to and preserving this information.  

I established a clear purpose for the Museum: “To promote community bonding through an appreciation of local history.”  By keeping with a mission “To collect, preserve and present the school and town’s history and to document, preserve and share the lineage of Cordova’s early settlers and their neighbors” our little Museum has the potential to do this and much more. These things are important!

A challenge of a $15,000 matching grant has been offered to the Museum if it is successful in matching this amount with its own fundraising efforts and in establishing its own 501(c)(3).   Instead of resigning as Director due to no funding, I am now encouraged with hopes of soon having a Board of Directors to work with alongside the CCC Board, the volunteers and community in support of keeping the Museum open.    

Ways to reach the goal of the matching grant is a community concern as it affects us all.  So is the concern of finding ways to preserve the historic building and helping the Community Center Board.  We need your ideas and suggestions.  We need your willingness to get involved.  We need your heart and your concern for the community in which you live.  We are but one person if we stand alone but together we can accomplish much as a team.  

In spite of all these distractions, I have still tried to be upbeat and think of new and different things the Museum can offer its friends in Cordova and elsewhere.  How about walking tours of Cordova’s business district.  Jimmy Ogle, Shelby County Historian, offers walking tours of Memphis, so why can’t we do walking tours for Cordova?  That is what we plan to do starting this spring!  Who wouldn’t enjoy learning the history of the old Cordova School building, then proceeding next door to see the tombstones of Mary Williams and Jim Allen for whom the town was named in its early days?  Next would be stops at the Presbyterian Church and Baptist Church then proceeding down Rocky Point where one would see the well preserved home of Dr. Parrott, and, down further, the old Train Depot.  Across the street is a whole row of historic buildings to visit and learn about.  What a wonderful opportunity to stop and rest while eating soup and a sandwich at Café Fontana.  While there, learn the history of that home and property!  Other field trips like this are being considered such as cemetery tours in search of early settlers and visits to other historic spots.  For sure, genealogical presentations on how to start your own family tree research and scrapbook will be on the agenda.

There is still an awful lot to do, but please know that I am very enthused with the new challenges and feel, that with your support, the sky is the limit for the Museum I love so much!  I will keep you advised of how things progress.


Spotlighted Visitors

Let me introduce you to Luther and Shirley Harville who are being spotlighted as recent visitors. They live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in Biloxi.  They have been to the little Cordova Museum several times. This is their third or fourth visit since they first learned of the Museum back in 2013.  Nice people like these make all our efforts worthwhile.  We asked them a few questions after selecting them as our most interesting visitors of the month.  We wanted to know how they knew of the Museum and what they liked best that kept them returning.  

Shirley and Luther Harville from Biloxi, MS

We asked the following questions:

  1. How did you know about the building and museum?

“We saw the sign on Macon Road that captured our attention. Then saw your sign and stopped by.” 

  1. What was your initial impression after visiting with us?

“The building reminded me of my childhood school. The museum is very informative toward the history of Cordova.”

  1. What have you enjoyed most? 

“We thoroughly enjoy visiting with Ms. Darlene.  We keep coming back to view the additions of the collections.”

  1. Would you recommend us to your friends/associates? 

“Yes!  We have referred several individuals to visit the museum.

  1. Do you have any suggestions that would make our operation better? 

“KEEP Ms. Darlene!  She is a treasure.” 


That is so interesting to me the Harvilles find time to visit anytime they are traveling through this area, and yet there are still people right here in Shelby and neighboring counties that do not know that we are here.  I went to the doctor this week down on Trinity, and while being checked in I asked the receptionist if she knew we had a museum in Cordova.  “No!  Where is it?” We still have work to do in advertising.

As you walk into the door of the Museum there is a display that has been used to highlight the Visitors of the Month.  I would also like to use this board to post public comments and feedback.  Has the Museum been beneficial to you in any way?  Let us hear back!  Did your visit to Cordova Museum help you discover a picture of one of your ancestors?  Were you stumped in your genealogy research and were able to break through this wall with assistance you were given at the Museum?  Did you enjoy a field trip offered, and how did that benefit you?  Were you able to make new friends through the Museum?  Perhaps even meeting up with distant cousins you had never met through the Museum?  Whatever it may be, if there is something you can write in a sentence or paragraph or even page, please send it in so we can lift our spirits by posting these comments in a display.  If any good was done, please let us hear about it. 

“Don’t lose heart when things fall apart.  It just means they’re about to be put back together in a new and better way!” ~ Mandy Hale



Post Script

Wow!  I have finally wrested the quill and inkwell away from Darlene who really waxed eloquent this time.  I cannot add a single thought to what she has said except to say that, indeed, the sky in the limit so get your flight suits on and come join us in the journey getting there!


aka Your Plucky Scribe


December 2014 Newsletter

Hello Friends!

Everyone is especially busy this time of year, even the Museum Director and Volunteers.  Still, we managed to execute one of the highlights of the year with the unveiling of a new exhibit, which is described below, on December 2nd.

 Crye-Leike Visit…

“Wait a minute,” you say. “Haven’t we already heard about this?” Well, yes and no. Earlier this year we hosted Crye-Leike Realtors from the Cordova office. This month we went a bit north and east and invited Crye-Leike Realtors from Arlington. Darlene gave her usual concise, yet entertaining, historical overview to an audience of some eighteen realtors.  They were a very receptive group who got a lot of insight into Cordova’s past before visiting the museum itself.

        Darlene Sawyer Greeting Guests    Jim Wadell Handing Out Information          John Criswell & Realtors 

 …and New Exhibit

The major focus of the Crye-Leike visit was the unveiling of a new exhibit which has thirty-two exquisite color photographs of historic homes and buildings in Cordova. These photographs were taken by museum volunteer and professional photographer, Becky Stillions (seen in the picture with Darlene) and her photographer husband, Harlan Stillions (not pictured). Darlene is thrilled with the outcome of the exhibit and thrilled with the friendship she has established with Harlan and Becky.  She says, “They never cease to amaze me with their talent and in freely using it to help the museum.  Maybe they just want to help me a little bit, too!”

This exhibit took a lot of hard work and attention starting with the photography and editing of the images on down to the planning and execution of presentation.  The photos were displayed in chronological order, making them a visual timeline. Each photograph was assigned a number corresponding with a map and accompanying legend showing locations of these historic places. If you haven’t seen this exhibit, come by and check it out. I guarantee you will be impressed. 

Christmas Suggestions

If you are still puzzling over what to get Aunt Minnie this yuletide season, and she happens to like history, we can fix you right up!  How about a copy of either the Old Cordova Memories book - $30 (we have only about twelve copies left) or Cordova - $20 (less than twenty-five available.) They make wonderful gifts for anyone with ties to Cordova School or who has an interest in Cordova's early history.  Heck, they just make good reading regardless of a person’s specific interests!

 Seasonal Schedule

The museum will be closed December 21 through January 5.  Like everyone else, we like to take a few days to do last minute things and to be with friends and family.  When we return to work after the holidays with plump bellies and fuller faces, we will sit down to ponder the museum’s future goals as well as our own.  We pray that it and we can benefit the community even more in 2015. 

 Looking Back

At this time of year it is always nice to take a moment or two to reflect on the events of the previous year.  It is eye opening to realize all the things accomplished. 

These include:

  • Presentation of Cordova book to seniors at Trinity Baptist Church.
  • Darlene and Jane introduce “Cordova” book to community at Cordova Library.
  • Emmi, Jim and Don spoke to Bartlett Historical Society at Gotten House.
  • Museum hosted fifty Descendants of Early Settlers to unveil the 1858 Ledger Book.
  • Museum staff interviewed on "Let’s Talk It Out" radio with Father Don Mowery. 
  • Local Cub Scout group visits museum with leader and parents.  
  • Cordova Museum attends Shelby County History Festival at Davies Manor. 
  • Darlene and Jane speak to Chucalissa Chapter of DAR at TN Genealogical Society.
  • Darlene starts helping to document Shelby County Cemeteries with John McNary.
  • Visited Cordova cemeteries for photographs and transcriptions.
  • Olive Branch (MS) Genealogical Society invited us as guest speakers.
  • Cordova Museum invited to have info table at Berryhill Community Festival.
  • Darlene and Jane honored at Shelby County Historical Awards Dinner.
  • Developed a structured accessioning (permanent record of items donated) program.
  • Established Visitor of the Month program and exhibit.
  • Developed training program for docents and invited the community to sit in.
  • Improved contents and look of monthly newsletter.
  • Museum invited community to join our tour of Shelby County Archives. 
  • Tom Leatherwood visits for community presentation hosted by Cordova Museum.
  • Crye-Leike Cordova Office invited to Cordova history presentation/museum tour.
  • Don and Darlene clean the building’s National Register of Historic Places markers. 
  • Supported the Cordova Community Center in July 4th Parade and Fall Craft Fair.
  • Community invited to join our field trip to Davies Manor Plantation and Hillwood.
  • Cordova Middle School teachers invited for history lesson/tour of the museum.
  • Community joins us touring Mt. Airy – a Cordova home on National Register.
  • Darlene and Volunteers speak at Cordova Library’s 10th Anniversary.
  • Montessori School students visit for history presentation/museum tour.
  • Crye-Leike Arlington Office visits for presentation and unveiling of new exhibit. 

Not too shabby, huh, for a little one room museum. Due to the determination and enthusiasm that started with one person and then spread with recruitment of helpers, these things have been accomplished to utilize the small museum in a positive way.  This should put to rest the question of “What can one person do?”  What can one person not do, or at least start rolling in the right direction, if they really want to?  Together we have worked and dreamed of making a difference in the community, and together we used what little the museum had to offer to do what we could; when we tried, the community responded back with love and appreciation.

 Need Your Support

Did you know there is no state or local government funding of the museum, nor any other funding except for the museum’s own self-generated income from its own fundraising efforts?  The bottom of the page is a way to give us a greatly needed hand.  For that we truly thank you! See below for additional information.

 Final Thoughts

All of us at the museum wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with happiness, good health, and love.  We do look forward to seeing you soon and often in 2015. 

 And I will close this last newsletter of the year with a request from me.  Please remember our troops now and during the months to come.  There are a number of lonely young Americans found in dark places around the world who can easily think they are forgotten.  I know, for I was one of them a couple of times earlier in my life.

 Until next time!

Jim Wadell - aka Plucky Scribe