One of my favorite quick escapes is a trip to the Bell County Museum in Belton. I like to park behind the museum so that afterward I can walk across North East Street and enjoy a quiet cup of chai or stroll through the little shops there.
This museum brings excellent temporary exhibits from near and far all year long. The current exhibit, “Founding of a Nation,” will be on display through the end of August, making way for a new one, “Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy,” set to run September 8 to December 29.
The permanent exhibits include the kind of early Bell County artifacts one would expect. But, two exhibits are unique and should not be missed.
One is in a room dedicated to the Gault Site, a significant archeological dig not far from here. This site is registered both as a Texas State Antiquities Landmark and in the National Register of Historic Places. The site has yielded 650,000 Clovis artifacts dating back to more than 13,500 years B.P. (Before Present -1950s).
The other is a set of panels telling the story of the “Sanctified Sisters.” This early 20th century women’s movement, officially called the Belton Woman’s Commonwealth,” organized mainly for financial and religious independence.
The original portion of the Bell County Museum building is a former Carnegie library. Andrew Carnegie grants, given by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie from 1883-1929, required local public financial support and generally this was generated by women’s organizations. The Belton Women’s Commonwealth gave their collection of books to start Belton’s library in 1903.