Whitehead Memorial Museum
The Whitehead Memorial Museum is a western museum complex in downtown Del Rio, Texas. Located on two and a half landscaped acres, the museum consists of nine buildings. Its thirteen exhibits with period artifacts, many from the 19th century, express the history of Val Verde County.
Encompassed within the museum grounds are a replica of "The Jersey Lilly" saloon, as well as the graves of the frontier Justice of the Peace Roy Bean and his son Sam Bean. (The original Bean saloon is at the Texas Tourist Bureau site in Langtry west of Del Rio, but numerous replicas are found throughout the United States.)
In 1962 the Whiteheads, a Del Rio ranching family, purchased the former Perry Mercantile building and donated it to the city and county for a museum. The San Felipe irrigation canal flows through the back of the property occupied by the museum.
Among the exhibits is the Hal Patton Office (1905), dedicated to Seminole Army scouts stationed in Del Rio. The War Room contains exhibits about the Confederate States of America, World War I, World War II, and Del Rio's Laughlin Air Force Base.
La Zappa Chapel is encouraged for prayer and meditation and is used for special occasions. It also contains the museum gift shop. "Cadena Nativity" is a permanent Christmas cultural and folk-art exhibit in a separate building.
Other popular exhibits include:
- The office of Dr. Simon Rodriguez, who in 1925 became the first Hispanic physician in Del Rio. Among other achievements, he delivered some 3,000 babies during his medical career.
- The Perry House (1870) contained the largest mercantile store between San Antonio and El Paso, on the first floor. Family living quarters were above. *The building called "The Barn" has a comprehensive exhibit of Native Americans.
- A restored cabin shows furnished living and dining quarters of frontier settlers.
A Border Radio exhibit relates to Del Rio's history of radio stations with a continental reach. Mexican stations XERA and XERF broadcast from Ciudad Acuña. With 500,000-watt signals, the stations could be heard at night as far away as Canada. Wolfman Jack, legendary deejay, broadcast from XERF in the 1960s with a Del Rio address to sell goods.
The museum has a Southern Pacific Railroad caboose through which visitors may stroll. An exhibit includes the figure of the notable English actress Lillie Langtry standing on the deck of a train. While visiting the US, she came to Langtry, Texas after Judge Bean’s death.
The museum, located at 1308 South Main Street, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 1-5 p.m.
Pictures of the grave markers of Roy and Sam Bean can be accessed through FindAGrave.comhttp://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1339
- "Whitehead Memorial Museum: A Small frontier town in the middle of Del Rio, Texas". Whiteheadmuseum.org. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- Texas Department of Transportation, 2008 State Travel Guide, p.p. 22-23
- "Whitehead Memorial Meum: A Small frontier town in the middle of Del Rio, Texas". whiteheadmuseum.org. Retrieved July 15, 2009.
- "Whitehead Memorial Museum". drchamber.com. Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- Wolfman Jack, Have Mercy, Warner Books, 1995
- Texas Department of Transportation, “2008 State Travel Guide”, pp., 16-17
- Whitehead Memorial Museum - official site