Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp



Museum of the Week – Two Brothers at the Anderson County Museum

Posted 9/23/2010 11:22:00 AM

At the Anderson County Museum, two railroad pocket watches sit side by side in a display case. The precision timepieces belonged to brothers Sam and Bill Orr and were presented to them by their father, who promised them both a watch “just like his” if they managed to make it to age 21 without ever smoking.

“Two Brothers from Anderson” follows the lives of the Orr brothers from their childhood as Boy Scouts to their college years and beyond.

The part of the exhibit that is especially fascinating is the section on the brothers’ experiences during World War II. Bill Orr, stationed in the Philippines, was captured during the Battle of Bataan, survived the Bataan Death March and was imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp. Sam Orr, a West Point graduate, ended up being stationed outside of London in Churchill’s “Station X,” where a team of great minds worked to crack the Nazi coder, the Enigma machine.

Although the brothers’ military exploits are interesting, it is the simple artifacts of their everyday lives that are most poignant. The boys’ sister Martha, who began keeping a public scrapbook after her she discovered her brothers snooping in her private diary, lovingly preserved much of the family history on display. This snapshot of two Anderson natives gives insight into the history of many of the families who have called the place home.

While at the museum, make sure to check out the excellent displays on the history of education in the county and of the textile mills that drove the area’s economy. There is also a delightful scale model of the midway at the Anderson County Fair by Anderson's Leonard King that deserves a peek.

The Anderson County Museum is open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.