Fort Davis Historical Society receives grant for Overland Trail Museum 

The Overland Trail Museum in Fort Davis recently received a modest grant to improve rain catchment systems. Photo courtesy of the Overland Trail Museum.

FORT DAVIS — The Texas Historical Foundation recently approved grant funds for the Fort Davis Historical Society to install seamless gutters on the historic, 1883-built adobe building that houses the Overland Trail Museum.

The new gutter installation aims to preserve the structure and interior collections by diverging rainfall away from the foundation. In nearby Marfa, the Marfa and Presidio County Museum, an adobe building also built in 1883, is currently suffering from structural failures as a result of water exposure. 

The Overland Trail Museum is located on the historic Overland Trail, a trade route between San Antonio and El Paso utilized from the mid- to late 1800s. The building was originally constructed in 1883 and was purchased by Nick Mersfelder in 1897. Mersfelder lived and ran various enterprises out of the home, including a barbershop, and added a courtroom on to the property in 1897. Mersfelder served as justice of the peace for 49 years and held court in that room until 1939.

The museum’s current collection consists of displays and artifacts relating to early life in the West, including medical paraphernalia, a restored pioneer settlers’ kitchen and numerous early photographs of pioneer settlers and buildings. The museum is run by the Fort Davis Historical Society, a nonprofit whose mission is to preserve, collect, exhibit and educate the public about the history of Jeff Davis County and the surrounding area.

The modest grant, submitted by volunteers Genie Mitchell and Barbara Curry, provides $2,665 from the Joanne R. Blocker Memorial Fund for the project. 

“It is through the work of dedicated groups and individuals such as yours that we are able to preserve Texas’ exceptional heritage for future generations,” wrote Gene Krane, executive director of the Texas Historical Foundation, in a letter to the Fort Davis Historical Society. 

The museum is located at 511 Fort Street and is open to the public from 2 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and by appointment. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. For more information, visit