Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

February 14, 2013

Native American museum donations approach 50 percent

Construction planned for April or May


Donations for a planned Native American museum to be built on the Chisholm Trail Outdoor Museum’s ground are nearing the halfway point of the $100,000 needed.

“We’re at about $44,700 right now, which is great as we started collecting donations in December,” said David Murdoch, chairman of the Johnson County Heritage Foundation, which oversees the CTOM, “Hopefully we’ll be able to start construction in April or May, but we’re clicking along and I think we’ll make it.”

Cleburne’s Woodmen of the World Lodge 4 bumped that total with a check presentation held Wednesday in the CTOM’s old schoolhouse. 

“We heard about the project and were talking about it and figured well, we’re part of Johnson County and they’re part of Cleburne so we ought to support them,” said Louis Homesley, WOW Lodge 4 past president. “So we all voted on it and wrote the check.”

WOW, Homesley said, established in 1890 and the Cleburne lodge established in 1891 and has remained continually active since.

WOW Lodge 4 President Morris Derting accompanied Homesley to present the check to Murdoch and Verna Riddles, co-chair of the museum’s fund-raising committee.

The museum, to be named the Big Bear Native American Museum, grew out of a 2012 donation from Grandview resident Leonard “Big Bear” Beal.

Beal, who passed away in October, donated more than 2,000 Native American artifacts — a lifetime collection he and his sons, Jay and Jual Beal, spent more than 60 years amassing — to the JCHF.

Murdoch and others spent months combing through and cataloging the collection, which they plan to display in the Big Bear museum meant to honor both Beal and his sons as well as his wife, Anna Mae Beal.

“Once we reach the $70,000 mark we can start building,” Murdoch said. “The entire project is about $100,000. About $77,000 of that is for the building itself. The rest is for furniture and fixtures. This will be a highly interactive museum with video screens and things like that. 

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