Thursday, June 09, 2022

Meet the Mississippi museum owner who makes you think

Charles Pendleton opened his museum in May 2021.

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Meet Charles Pendleton, a 53-year-old Vicksburg, Mississippi-born owner of three oil change stations; former classic car collector; father of three (a registered nurse, attorney, and a Marine); and president of the remarkable Vicksburg Civil War Museum, where for the $7 entrance fee you can examine his collection of thousands of Civil War artifacts and stimulate your mind. It’s the only museum I’ve visited where you can get a scoop of Blue Bell Ice Cream (five bucks a cone) and listen to the blues played on a continuous loop.

A Battle of Chattanooga war log.
Pendleton, whose Civil War collecting began in 2018, may be a universe of one. I know of no other Black person who owns a Civil War museum. His opened in May 2021. The museum, at the corner of Washington and China streets, is housed in a former drugstore. Its owner displayed Civil War relics and sold “voodoo lotion” in the back. 

Pendleton’s wife runs the oil change business while he pursues his Civil War passion. Most of his collection he purchased at Civil War shows. “People know when I’m there, I’m there to spend money,” Pendleton said.

To your right, as you enter the museum, Pendleton displays copies of the letters of secession, word for word, for the 11 Confederate states. Turn left to see a collection of artillery shells. In the back, you’ll find a replica slave cabin and one of the most remarkable set of documents you’ll see anywhere: framed bills of sale for a young slave named Ella from 1848.

The Mississippi River cruise boats empty nearby, so Pendleton gets a steady flow of visitors—“100 to 150 a day,” he told me. As we chatted, a visitor from London offered Pendleton a museum review.

“Amazing job. Brilliant.”

For 90 minutes the next day, Pendleton and I discussed Civil War monuments and race. He asked hard, thought-provoking questions. I plan to visit with him again soon. Until then ...

Read more about Pendleton in my book, coming soon. 🙏

Pendleton's huge collection of artillery shells.
A display on slavery.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:09 PM

    Fantastic news on this new Civil War Museum in Mississippi! I would love to visit. Until then, does Mr. Pendleton have a website? Thank You.