NWA GHOST CONNECTION

ST. FRANCIS COUNTY MUSEUM

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History:  Forrest City, Arkansas lies between L'Anguille and St. Francis Rivers. It was founded as a city by former confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest in 1867. It was also known as a construction camp for the Memphis/ Little Rock Railroad. In 1869 A Saloon was built in the city along the railroad. Dr. J.O. Rush moved to Forrest City and had a contract with the Railroad as a doctor. He preformed mutifascited jobs as the town doctor from delivering babies to being an undertaker. In 1906 The Saloon was torn down and   Dr. Rush and his wife built the home they were to live in and work in, Where the saloon once stood. According to  Craig Ogilvie, travel writer Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism When Dr. J.O. Rush built his home at Forrest City in 1906, he included wide hallways and oversized doorways on the first floor. He knew in advance that his residence would be accommodating emergency stretchers and hospital beds. However, Dr. Rush didn't know that almost a century later those spacious hallways would be helpful in displaying artifacts in the St. Francis County Museum, which occupied the site in May, 1999.

The placement of the home/clinic at 603 Front Street, some 50 yards from the railroad tracks, was no coincidence. In addition to his family practice, Dr. Rush was a surgeon for tthe railroad and his clinic became a convenient drop for injured workmen and ill passengers. He also used the railway to reach other towns along or near the east-west tracks across the delta and Crowley's Ridge.

The 7,000 square-foot house remained in the Rush-Gates family until 1995, when it became county property. With public support and private donations of materials, labor and planning, the cost of restoring the structure was about $150,000. Original estimates had been as high as $500,000.

Ironically, this is the second time the Rush-Gates House has served as a museum. Dr. Rush, a Missouri native, started collecting prehistoric artifacts as a hobby a few years after his arrival in 1900. Mississippian Period native pottery and projectile points, along with fossilized mastodon bones, sea shells and shark teeth (all unearthed locally) became part of Dr. Rush's waiting room displays. The collection grew as more patients paid their medical bills with relics.

Display cases, filled with rare and beautiful native items, continue to be exhibited just as Dr. Rush arranged them decades ago. Although an amateur archeologist, the physician maintained a record system for his "museum" very much like professionals use today. Friends contributed additional objects from world travels, including an Eskimo harpoon, Mayan and Incan relics, African spears, plus items from the South Pacific.

Other museum rooms illustrate the region's agricultural history, a tribute to area veterans of foreign wars and conflicts, plus an exhibit about St. Francis County communities and former courthouses. A huge clock-face, one of four that towered over the old 1897 courthouse, is displayed along with the building's massive cornerstone. Ghost hunters will be happy to know that a few odd and unexplainable happenings have been reported in the building since renovation. According to news articles, objects have mysteriously "moved" from one place to another, secured doors opened by themselves and strange noises heard. The Associated Press distributed the story in October, 1999, just prior to the museum's very successful Halloween candlelight tours. Special events are also held during Christmas and other holidays. Traveling exhibits from other museums are displayed periodically. Ghost Connection was the first paranormal group to do an overnight investigation in this museum. For more information on the museum go to www.sfcmuseum.org .



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