Heart Of Texas
Historical Museum

Brady, TX

March 11th, 2000

While traveling through the largest state in the Continental United States, I had to ask myself, "So where is the heart of Texas?" Well, for some 6000 people, it's Brady, the sleepy little town that is at the geological center of Texas. We found ourselves spending a few days in a simple, quiet campground on the outskirts of town. With time on our hands, we wandered down to the town square for a peaceful Saturday afternoon. About the tallest building in town, is the three story old county jail. The plaque on the front of this historic structure stated it was built between 1909 and 1910 in the Romanesque style. The first floor was once a residence for the jailer and his family, with the second and third floors filled with iron plate cells capable of housing a couple of dozen prisoners. The first sheriff to move in as jailer was T. L. Sansome. The building served the community until a new facility was built in 1974. A few years later the newly formed Historical Museum Society bought the building from the county for $5. It stands today as a depository for the names and faces of the people who lived and died here over the years. As we wandered the first floor we found out that sometime around the middle of the 1800s, Peter Brady was riding through the area, perhaps on one of his many hunting trips when he came across a small river, now known as the Brady River. The deer must have been plentiful as they are now. (There was a large whitetail buck grazing on the roadside as we approached the town.) Well, I guess Peter liked the area so much he settled down here and the rest is history. The contents of this building is an eclectic mixture of collectibles with strong emphasis on the residents who served during the various wars. A few old guns, some period clothing and lots and lots of old photos. The second and third floor is open to the public. Of interest, considering the date the building was constructed, is the second floor drop-door designed for hangings. A hangman's knotted rope is draped in the proper position for esthetic value. We were told that it was never used in an actual hanging. The cells were constructed of a cross work of iron bars constructed in the middle of the rooms, leaving sufficient space to get to the windows which were opened for ventilation. In place of the grizzly collection of prison rabble, now stands an odd assortment of unrelated items. On a table in one cell is displayed the 58,000 kitchen match stick model of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brady, built by WWII veteran Sam Smith during the hours he couldn't sleep. Another cell held a collection of very old typewriters. The type that had the keys coming from the side of the machine instead of the front. Nothing is labeled or described on the upper floors. They just sit there as if abandoned by some caretaker long ago in a forgotten time, gathering dust and waiting. Millions of people visit this great state every year. Most of them will never know of old Pete Brady, or the jail or the people who's lives are recorded inside. I for one, was happy to be here and be part of it.

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