The McDuffie Museum will open to the public on Sunday, Jan.11. The first featured exhibit will be a Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibit, Key Ingredients: America By Food. The McDuffie Museum was one of 12 rural sites chosen by the Georgia State Humanities Council to host Key Ingredients. The exhibit examines how culture, ethnicity, landscape and tradition have influenced local foods.
The museum also will have a gift shop, located in the front, which will sell local cookbooks, totes, throws, maps, books and pictures. The gift shop will be named "Frog Pond" in honor of one of Thomson's earlier names.
"It's a recorded actual name," said Rusty Lovelace, who was instrumental in the beginning plans for the museum. "Everybody remembers that Thomson had frogs everywhere. The other early names are 'Slashes' and 'Hickory Level.'"
A local history buff, Mr. Lovelace said the first mention of "Thomson" as a name for the city is in the Georgia Gazette of 1837.
Mr. Lovelace provided this story of "Frog Pond," which was published in Memories of By-Gone Days by J.A. Boatwright:
"The mayor went to Augusta, saw a fire engine, and finally talked the Town Council into ordering one. Everything was fine, until a visitor from another state reminded them that there was no water to put out the fires with. The fire engine dealer recommended cisterns.
I want to say right now, that Thomson was soon to have more cisterns than any town in the United States. Everybody in town wanted one; there were about 20 feet square and 10 feet deep, and since Thomson was built in a bottom, they soon filled up.
These cisterns bred mosquitoes by the millions. The mayor had to find a way to get rid of them, so the same helpful out-of-towner said that bullfrogs would eat them. There were already bullfrogs in the ditches around town, so everyone began hunting them to put them in the cisterns. People from out in the country brought in bullfrogs, and we soon had more frogs than any town in Georgia. Frogs multiply like fish, and sometimes you could not see the water in the cisterns for the frogs. Did you ever hear an old bullfrog going 'butter-rum, butter-rum' at night? You can hear them for half a mile. My friend, every night in my town, you could hear 10,000 at a time. How on earth we ever slept, I'll never know."