Keeper of materials

Published 4:07 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2006

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Features writer
Simmons maintains museum contents
A museum is a place where some people don't want to spend a lot of time because it sounds as if it would be very boring.
Jerry Simmons is trying to get the message out that visiting the museum can be a lot of fun in addition to being informative.
Simmons took over the job of museum coordinator last year at the Thomas E. McMillan Museum at Jefferson Davis Community College.
Not only did he take on the job of looking after the museum but he also became the keeper of the materials kept by the Escambia County Historical Society called The Alabama Room.
The Escambia County Historical Society was using a room at the Leigh Library on the campus at the college to store their books, papers and other materials.
When it became necessary for the college to use that room, other arrangements were made to house the collections.
The college allowed the organization to use space at the museum and to hire someone on a part-time basis to catalog and maintain the materials.
Carol Madden took over the position and held it for a while. In the meantime Jerry Simmons, who is the vice-president of the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society in Flomaton, decided to attend a meeting and later to join the Escambia County Historical Society.
He began using the materials located in the museum and discovered how much he enjoyed seeing what all was out there.
When it became necessary for Madden to leave the position, she did not forget Simmons and what he had said about wanting to work there.
He happily accepted the position of curator of the museum and librarian for the historical society.
We need some more volunteers who really love history and can help catalog the materials. Of course we could also use some funding in order to be able to buy some things that are needed, such as microfilm, especially census microfilm.”
The Alabama Room houses many things of interest such as copies of the heritage books of every county in the state, vertical files on many local families, newspapers and census records on microfilm and many other tools to help one discover the history and genealogy of Escambia County.
The museum has several displays of interest to the community.
Among those are building tools, antique doctors' equipment and a large display of artifacts found at the site of old Camp Pollard, which was a large Confederate military base.
There is something for everyone to see and learn about and Simmons hopes the public will come out and visit.
Simmons is a native of Century, Fla., and has lived there most of his life.
He is one of two boys who grew up with their father working as a clerk for the Alger-Sullivan Mill. He graduated from Century High School in 1958.
He attended Pensacola Junior College right out of high school and then got a job doing radio and television repair.
He married in 1963 and his first child Tony was born in 1964.
In the same year he went to work for Monsanto, for the first time, as a technician in electronics.
His second child Lisa was born in 1967 and 10 years later, in 1977, he left Monsanto and opened a Christian bookstore in Century.
The business didn't do too well and he got into selling insurance.
In 1981, there was a lay-off at Monsanto and his job ended there and he went to work as a Boston Digital officer as region service manager in Cleveland, Ohio.
He must have missed living in Century because in 1992 he came back and once again went to work at Monsanto as the department maintenance coordinator.
He retired in 2001 and got very active in the Alger Sullivan Historical Society. One of his projects has been to return the old switch engine 100 to Century.
It once was a reliable engine used at Alger Sullivan but it has been used for various things in the last few years. It has been declared &#8220of historical significance” by the State of Florida Historical Preservation Commission.
A grant has been approved for getting the engine back to Century and then the job will be to get it rebuilt and put on display.
Simmons has also been writing a history column for The Tri-City Ledger for the last five years. He recently was married to Dianne Stokes as the first to be married in the Century United Methodist Church after repairs were made after the hurricanes.
Simmons stays very busy with his position at the college and working with the Alger Sullivan Historical Society. Right now he is looking forward to April 8, when there will be a celebration to mark the 105th anniversary of the naming of Century.
Big plans are in the works and he hopes everyone will come on down to Century for the event.