New museum director's focus on local history
By Aaron Moore
Published in News on August 1, 2012 1:46 PM
Brantley Partin, the new director of the Wayne County Museum, discusses plans for the museum as he stands in front of an exhibit. Partin, a Goldsboro native, previously worked at a Victorian home in Deadwood, S.D.
Brantley Partin knows the story of the Battle of Goldsborough Bridge. He knows where Union Gen. William Sherman stayed during his march through Wayne County.
But on the scale of local history, Partin said Sherman's March isn't as important as the daily march of farmers to their fields or the letters Wayne County soldiers sent their families from the front.
Partin is the new director of the Wayne County Museum. He just started last week, but already he said he's hoping to collect more old family stories from locals.
"I want to try to present the history of Wayne County, to get them interested in history," Partin said. "To give them a better appreciation of why the county is like it is today, the treasures it has."
Partin said he isn't as interested in state or national personalities or important national events. He just wants to bring more of Wayne County to the museum.
"I'm not looking for, 'George Washington came here and did this,'" he said. "There's only so much you can do with that. It's supposed to be about the local people who somebody from outside wouldn't know who they are."
One example, he said, is a letter he has from Sherman to a local woman, Mrs. Collier, apologizing for stealing her horses during his march through Goldsboro.
"It's a story that would never make the history books, but with a local impact," Partin said.
Most important, Partin said, is getting more young people in the museum to understand where their ancestors came from and how much life has changed in Wayne County, even in the last 50 years.
With changes in technology, Partin said many young people today would be amazed to see the level of sacrifice they would have had to give in centuries past.
"There was very little education for kids, even until the 30s," he said. "Kids were expected to help in the fields. You had to help the family get food or you would starve."
And Partin said he wants young people to understand the impact agriculture has had on building the county.
"Wayne County has an incredibly important agricultural history," Partin said.
Though he grew up in Goldsboro, Partin -- who has a masters in American history and museum studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro -- is coming to the museum post from a curator position in Deadwood, S.D.
He said his most important goal is to get Wayne County citizens into the museum and sharing their family history.
"I want to get the public involved. That's my number one goal," Partin said. "I want to get programs in place and get children interested."
To do that, though, Partin said he will need volunteers from the community -- anyone with even a small interest in history who wants to help pass it to the next generation.
"That's where you have to start, is young kids," Partin said. He said he wants youth to know that the museum is their link to the past.
"That's what makes you, is what comes before you," he said.
He also said he's interested in any old historical items people might have, as long as they know the history behind it.
For information on volunteering or donating historical items, contact the museum at 734-5023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.