A frequently asked question by the public is "How does the museum acquire all these artifacts?" This is usually asked with curiosity, sometimes with raised eyebrows and incredulous eyes, and always, anticipation. The answer is, from you! Since 1910, members of the public, citizens of the city, and people from around the U.S. with ties to Fort Smith inquire of us on a weekly basis about donating. We accept the items that promote our mission of "collecting, sharing, and preserving the history of Fort Smith and the surrounding region". This has created and continues to create a diverse collection!
#newacquisitionwednesday is a way to highlight the new accessions to our collection. The photographs show a small silver snuff box that was given as a party favor to the ladies who attended the May 20th, 1912 Dolly Madison Prayer Breakfast in Washington D. C. In attendance from Fort Smith that day was Mrs. Ben Cravens (the former Caroline Dayl), wife of U.S. Representative, Mr. Ben Cravens--both residents of Fort Smith with early and long-lasting family ties to our city. Mrs. Cravens served on the committee organizing the prayer breakfast. The snuff box belonged to Mrs. Cravens and was donated to FSMH by Mr. Robert E. Hovenberger in late 2019.
Newspapers articles chronicling the event announced, "WOMEN PAY HOMAGE TO DOLLY MADISON AT HARMONY FEAST; Notable Social Gathering Attends First Political Banquet Ever Held By and For the Fair Sex Alone."
Further society news in the article describes, "Snuff Box Favors: At each plate was a unique place card in the form of a sterling silver reproduction of the famous Dolly Madison snuff box, with the further decoration which the original box lacked of a portrait of "Dolly" in repousse, and an appropriate inscription. A program of quaint old-time airs, suggestive of the times of the Madison's, was played during the breakfast by the Marine Band stationed in the balcony. A further echo of the past was the appearance of the numerous family heirlooms and relics of days gone by worn by many guests."
We thank Mr. Robert E. Hovenberger for his gift to the museum!
Newspaper Source: Dolly Madison Breakfast, May 20, 1912, The Washington Times, part 1, part 2, part 3 (Newspapers.com)