GREENVILLE — Although there are many great names that appear throughout Garst Museum, such Annie Oakley, Lowell Thomas, General Anthony Wayne, and the list goes on and on. All of them had a huge influence on or in Greenville and the surrounding communities. However, there is a name that stands above others when it comes to the museum. Many may have met her and didn’t know her name, but they came away with more knowledge than they had before they met her. She was the go-to person for anyone needing answers. Nancy Stump was the person visitors and staff could rely on for historical information, information about exhibits, genealogy or anything related to the museum.
Stump recently announced she was stepping away from Garst Museum and her impact and knowledge will be missed; not only by those that work there, but by the public as a whole.
Clay Johnson, Ph.D., CEO of Garst Museum, said, “As CEO of the Darke County Historical Society and Garst Museum, I have a great respect for Nancy Stump’s depth of knowledge about the history of our area. Many times, I have gone to her for answers to questions that no one else can answer.”
Eileen Litchfield, volunteer and board member, worked closely with Stump over the years and explained, “Her knowledge of the major venues at Garst is unparalleled. She is an expert on Annie Oakley, military history and all fields.”
Stump admits the Military Room is her favorite. She recalled helping put the room together when it was moved upstairs. She said, “It took a lot of painting and a lot of this and that to make it look good.”
In addition to the Military Room, Stump has witnessed a lot of change at the museum over the years. She was hired by and started working under former museum director Toni Seiler. She noted there were only three buildings when she began. “Then they decided to put the other building, that big building we have now,” she said. She remembers getting it ready to open and arranging everything to make it look nice.
Stump did get to meet and talk with Lowell Thomas, Jr., the son of the legendary broadcaster featured in Garst Museum. She met him when he came to Greenville to help open the Lowell Thomas Wing. However, she regrets not being able to meet Lowell Thomas. She said he visited the museum quite a few times. She had a call one day that he was at the museum and hurried to try to make it there in time to see him, but she said she missed him by 20 minutes.
Stump is proud of her heritage as a member of the East of the River Shawnee Tribe Ruling Council, a representative of the Rabbit Clan, the largest clan of the tribe. She developed a skill for making wampum belts and some of her work is on exhibit in the Crossroads of Destiny exhibit. She also created the Peace Wampum for the 200th anniversary of the Signing of the Treaty in 1995. Stump said she spent a lot of years in Canada and did some beautiful handwork up there.
According to Litchfield, Stump’s reach went far beyond the exhibits in the museum. “Research and genealogy were her strong suit,” she said. Along with her team in the Darke County Research Library, she assisted individuals seeking information about family histories and much more. “While never in the public eye, she quietly made a huge difference for so many here at Garst and beyond,” said Litchfield.
Stump really enjoyed meeting and talking with people at the museum. “I love people,” she said. “I only wish I could still do it.” She said she had to learn where everything was so she could point visitors in the right direction, or she would take them to the exhibit and show it to them.
Although she will not be at the museum on a day-to-day basis, Stump said she will not be a stranger. She plans on dropping in when she can and will help with exhibits and projects as she is able.
Stump received the Darke County Historical Society’s Heritage Award in 2014 where she was recognized for her distinguished contributions and actions of unusual excellence that help connect people to Darke County’s past.
For more information on Garst Museum, visit www.garstmuseum.org.