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Old Jail Museum

Updated: Mar 6

Originally built in 1912, the Old Jail Museum is one of the points of pride and joy in Clay County, NC. While the brick, box-like building may not look like much, the museum's contents are truly unique to clay-county and caused me to go down multiple rabbit holes. When viewing varying exhibits of the Old Jail Museum, there are three main pillars of the history presented to its visitors: the history of the Old Jail itself, the history of Clay County, and Cherokee history and culture.

The history of Clay County boasts items such as feed sacks and old telephones circa 1917. Admittedly, I first didn’t see what could be so interesting about feedback, however, as I learned more about how the change from tinned goods to sacked goods revolutionized marketing, material acquisition, and fashion I became thoroughly invested. It also provided an interesting insight into the lives and responsibilities of southern, rural women, which often goes overlooked in educational institutions. 

As you continue through the museum, you’ll see a great deal of Cherokee material cultures such as quilts, clan masks, and stickball equipment. In addition, the Old Jail Museum also houses the Cherokee Homestead Exhibit which includes re-constructed structures such as the winter and summer houses that were used by the people of the Cherokee Nation pre-colonization.


--Sabra Dye


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