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Draper Journal

Walk back in time at the Draper Historical Society Museum

Aug 23, 2018 03:10PM ● By Jana Klopsch

By Christy Jepson | [email protected]

When you walk through the doors at the Draper Historical Society Museum, it’s like you have instantly stepped back in time. Thousands of items from long ago are placed throughout the nine-room house, which use to be the old Pixton home, located one block east of Draper City Hall.

Pictures of original Draper settlers, their families and other Draper residents from as early as the 1850s are placed prominently on the walls. Their faces reflect years of hard work, determination, courage and struggle. It’s almost like they are looking at you, waiting for you to listen to their own unique stories.     

As soon as you walk into the museum, friendly volunteers greet you and are happy to assist you in anything you need. Are you looking for a particular family story? Do you need help filling in a family history chart? Do you need help recognizing someone in an old photo? Are you interested in finding any photos, documents or newspaper articles about any of your relatives that used to live in Draper? Or are you just curious about what life was like for the residents in Draper long ago?

The Draper Historical Society Museum has thousands of antiques and other dated items, including musical instruments, old maps and photos of Draper, tools, farm equipment, period clothing, furniture, school items, sports memorabilia, old kitchen appliances, bottles, hub caps from old cars and much more.  

Laid out on a large table in one of the front rooms are binders full of pictures of old Draper homes, maps of the area, obituaries of Draper residents, information about Draper schools, the railroad, the postal office, family histories and interesting Draper newspaper articles.

According to Esther Kinder, a volunteer at the museum and a board member of the Draper Historical Society, the museum also gives tours to Boy scout troops, Cub Scout troops, elementary school classes and anyone else who is interested in learning about Draper history.

“Once when I was giving a school tour and I was showing the kids the old typewriters, a young boy asked where the delete key on the typewriter was,” said Kinder, laughing. “Kids can’t imagine life without TV or computers.”

Kinder and all the other volunteers love to see kids get excited about history. The volunteers love to tell stories about the old metal tubs, or how freezers use to be ice boxes, or the first black-and-white nine-inch TV that had only four channels, or the house phones that had multiple party lines.

Other visitors who come into the museum are people looking for their family history — even out-of-state people visit the museum or call to find out information about a relative who once lived in Draper — and others are just trying to find out more information about one of their relatives.

“That’s what we are here for, to help people see and learn about their heritage,” said Kinder.

Kinder and her family are long-time residents of Draper. “I live in the same house that my father built — a room at a time. When he had an extra $50 he would build on another room. My dad built this house and I love it. I treasure antiques and family items. They mean the world to me,” said Kinder. 

Once one of Kinder’s friends asked her if she grew up in a “hope” house. When Kinder asked what her friend meant, her friend replied, “It started out as something else, and you hoped it got better!” Kinder loves living in her “hope” house that has so many family memories in it.

There are usually six volunteers to assist visitors and give tours at the Draper Historical Society Museum on Mondays and six volunteers to help out Wednesdays.

Draper history dates back to 1849 when Ebenezer Brown took his cattle to graze in the lush, green fields in an unsettled area known as South Willow Creek (now Draper). Less than a year later, Brown brought his wife, Phoebe, and their large family to the area and settled there. Brown made his living by fattening cattle up to sell to the immigrants who were heading west to California.  

That same year, the Browns invited Phoebe’s brother, William Draper III, and his wife, Elizabeth, and their family to join them in this beautiful farming area. By 1852, 20 families lived in South Willow Creek and two years later, the first post office was established with Phoebe Brown running the office.

The town was initially named Draperville in honor of William Draper III, who was the first presiding elder of the quaint Mormon congregation. The name was later shortened to Draper.

The Draper Historical Society Museum is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April through October, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November through March. Guided tours are available by appointment. For more information and to schedule a tour, call (801) 495-3476.